The best countries for food
Food and travel go together like planes and airports. No matter where you go you’ll have little trouble finding at least one culinary experience that will help you understand the local culture. In some countries the food is the highlight, drawing many a foodie to its borders, like a moth to a flame. Here are 11 countries (in no particular order) that your taste buds will thank you for visiting.
Standing at the crossroads of India, China and Oceania, Thai cuisine is like a best-of of all three’s techniques and ingredients. Dishes generally go in hard with garlic and chillies (especially the phrik khii nuu variety, which literally translates as ‘mouseshit peppers’). Other signature ingredients include lime juice, coriander and lemon grass, which give the cuisine its characteristic tang. Legendary fish sauce or shrimp paste looks after the salt.
From olives to octopus, the true taste of Greece depends on fresh, unadulterated staples. Masking or complicating original flavours is not the done thing, especially when you’re dealing with oven-fresh bread, rosy tomatoes and fish fresh from the Mediterranean. The midday meal is the main event with a procession of goodies brought to the table as they’re ready. With Wednesday and Friday traditionally reserved as fast days (ie no-meat days), vegetarians are also looked after.
From back-alley dumpling shops to four-star banquet halls, China has one of the world’s finest palates. Cultural precepts of Yin and Yang (balance and harmony) are evident in the bowl: with food for the day including cooling foods such as vegetables and fruit to counter warming spices and meat. The Chinese revere rice but also choose noodles, with either almost always accompanying a meal. A range of regional specialities exist, variously influenced by geography and history.
From cheese and champagne to snails and baguettes, the French are famous for their foodstuffs. French cuisine has long distinguished itself for dallying with a great variety of foods. Each region’s distinct climate and geography have influenced the array of regional specialities. Many in France consider lunch as the day’s main meal, though the two hour marathon meal is increasingly rare. The crowning meal is a fully fledged home-cooked dinner comprising six distinct plats (courses).
Best in Barcelona, Catalan cooking is racking up the accolades from gourmands around the globe. Like other regional Spanish cuisines, Catalan cooking favours spices such as saffron and cumin, as well as honeyed sweets. A mixture of ingredients and traditions adds flair to Barcelona’s fare: using seafood and meats in a rich array of sauces. Dinner is the main event, but never before 9pm.
Anna Evans is a Traveler/Renter and a great contributor of publications on experiences and destinations.