When I visit a new country, part of the whole travel experience is to dive into that destination's food.
I quite often do some pre-trip research to find out what you should eat, and if I'm in a city, where I can eat.
I've thought long and hard about this list of must try foods, some of them are street food finds, some are full blown dishes that need time to savour and enjoy over an evening. Some of these dishes are ones that I have sought out after reading about them in guidebooks, or travel magazines. Or some are ones that I have serendipitously come across.
These are in no particular order, however, if I had to choose just one from this list it has to be the Vietnamese Pho noodles for breakfast..
So, what's so great about these beef noodles anyways?
This warming dish was something I came across in Hanoi, the rich beefy broth and thinly cut pieces of slow cooked beef was a perfect start to the day in that crazy moped ridden city. Pho is flavoured with ginger, chilli and Chinese inspired spices. The broth is fortified with rice noodles and spring onion and in some eateries I've had a poached egg in the broth - PERFECT!
Prior to travelling to Morocco, I'd heard a lot about the famous Tagine style of cooking. The chicken and lamb variations are slow cooked in the clay pot with spices and herbs. However, something that I came across whilst in Marrakesh was Harira soup. Essentially it is a hearty soup with spices, lentils and chickpeas, it is a warming dish and ideal if you can get some fresh flat breads along with it.
Another gem I came across in Morocco was Pastilla, these filo pastries come filled with chicken, spices, apricots and pistachios and are a great snack to grab in the market stalls.
When I think about Sri Lanka, I could talk about their wonderful coconut curries, dhals and fresh fish. However, something that I really enjoyed was "Hoppers". These are small pancakes made out of rice flour, and when cooked are nice and crisp around the edges. The ones I had in Bentota, were served with a fried egg, chilli and lime. Perfect for breakfast time!
I've not assigned this a particular country as you can have this dish in many a ski resort. However, Raclette cheese is a dish well suited to the snowy mountains. This Alpine semi firm cheese (Similar to Gruyere cheese) is melted over a roaring fire then melted off onto potatoes, cold meats and warm bread. This dish is perfect for sharing with friends over a bottle of wine.
Whilst in The Gambia, I couldn't get enough of Domoda. A peanut stew, served with , tomatoes, chicken or beef and chillies. The peanuts are ground down and made into a sauce. Usually served with rice. The Gambia's main export is peanuts and Domoda is considered their national dish. The sauce is similar in taste to a satay sauce, and something you need to try when in West Africa.
Wiener schnitzel is a thin piece of pork, tenderizered and then coated into breadcrumbs and fried. There are some variations of the type of meat used, but during my visit, it was pork. You can buy ready made schnitzel in supermarkets, however it is best tried at a restaurant served with potatoes and lemon.
Another good Austrian find is Sachertorte, a rich chocolate cake with ganache and with an apricot jam filling. You'll usually find Sachertorte in coffee shops of Vienna.. ideal with a freshly brewed coffee.
I could not write a blog post about food and not mention Scotland. Scotland is blessed with wonderful coastlines and rivers and with that comes fresh seafood. We have fresh scallops, lobsters and salmon. Head to the West coast to try some wonderful seafood, perhaps visit the Port town of Oban for freshly prepared fish dishes. However, one suggestion would be to try the North eastern dish of Cullen Skink - Albeit, the name isn't the most glamourous, however this creamy, filling soup uses local produce. It has chunky pieces of smoked haddock, potatoes, onions and a milky broth. To be true to the dish, head to the coastal town of Cullen in the North East for a taste!
Every trip I make to Paris, I have to eat savoury crepes. You'll find these all over Paris and my favourite combination is with ham and Gruyere cheese. It's simple food, but delicious. Another must to try is the desserts and patisseries. One favourite from the Angelina Bakery is "Le Mont- Blanc" a pastry of Swiss meringue, chestnut creme and whipped cream, served with a sprinkling of icing sugar. The high domed dessert is supposed to resemble the snow capped mountain. I tried mine in Versaille, but I believe you can get these pretty easily around the Paris area.
Another great thing to try in France is the bread, it is also a good way to watch the pennies. Grab a freshly baked baguette from the bakery in the morning and make a picnic from the wonderful cheeses and cold meats.
I could go on and on about the wonderful food, however this list needs to stop somewhere! I found it difficult to choose just one thing from each country and that's why I haven't mentioned anything from China. China has a vast variety of food, some unusual finds which are delicious and some things that I couldn't bare to try again. (I once tried chicken feet in a nightclub and lived to regret it)
Anyways, no matter where you are travelling I really encourage you try to something new. One thing that I do before a trip is to look at the YouTube Channel: Emmymadeinjapan. The concept is that this women (Emmy) eats different things sent to her from around the world, some are candies which you could purchase in the supermarket, some are meals which you need to keep your eyes peeled for.