Who doesn’t love to travel? I was born in Italy, currently reside in the United States (Utah), and have visited England, China, Spain, Kenya, and Russia in my travels- to name a few. As an avid globetrotter, I aspire to be more than just a tourist. For me, a vacation isn’t complete without fully immersing myself in the culture. This means trying the national food specialities of whatever country I’m visiting, no matter how bizarre they may appear. You never know if you’ll like something unless you actually try it. In fact, some of my favorite foods were discovered through my travels.
If you’re visiting a foreign country for the first time, the food options can be a little overwhelming. The locals will all have their own opinions on their country’s best food, and it would definitely serve you well to ask around and try different things based on their recommendations, but here are my picks of 10 of the best dishes from 10 countries around the world to get you started:
- Kenya: ugali Ugali is a type of porridge typically consisting of cornmeal. It’s cooked in boiling water or milk to give it a dough-like consistency. Although it sounds simple, ugali is a very versatile dish and is extremely popular in Southern Africa and the Great Lakes region. It can be rolled into a ball and used as a scoop for meat and vegetable stews.
- Russia: borscht Borscht is a type of beet soup, made with some type of meat stock and other vegetables as well such as cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. If you don’t like beets, then you may want to skip this one, but personally, it’s one of my favorites. The soup has a slightly sour flavor and is usually served cold with a dollop of sour cream on top.
- England: yorkshire pudding You may have heard that what Brits call “pudding” is not the same dessert that Americans associate with pudding. In the UK, the word “pudding” typically denotes a dessert course but can be used to describe a sweet or savory dish. Yorkshire pudding is not a pudding at all in the American sense of the word; it’s a staple dish in England (part of the traditional British Sunday roast), made from a batter of eggs, flour, milk or water. It’s usually flavored with meat drippings, herbs, and seasonings, and served with beef and gravy.
- Spain: paella Paella, while popularized and available in most places, is a Spanish speciality. It’s a rice dish made with different kinds of meat, usually seafood (shrimp, mussels, clams, crab, or lobster) or sausage, and vegetables. It’s typically seasoned with saffron and garlic, and its name comes from the pan it’s traditionally cooked in.
- Italy: pizza Okay, okay, pizza may sound like a cop-out when there are so many delectable food options in Italy, but trust me on this: Italian pizza is not the same as other pizza. Naples is the birthplace of pizza, and Italian pizza uses only the freshest ingredients like tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. If you’re feeling more adventurous, though, try tortellini en brodo, the ultimate Northern Italian comfort food. Instead of the traditional cream sauce, the tortellini are served in a homemade chicken broth.
- Canada: poutine If you thought french fries couldn’t get any better, think again. In this Canadian take on french fries, the fries are smothered in gravy and topped with cheese curds.
- Australia: pie floater What is a pie floater, you ask? It’s not actually a floating pie, but an Australian-style meat pie served in a bowl of pea soup. If you’re not feeling adventurous enough to try kangaroo meat, this savory dish should hit the spot.
- Scotland: haggis Haggis sounds disgusting but many people find it to be quite delicious. It’s a savory pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal, spices and salt. If you’re not a very adventurous eater, I could understand wanting to pass on this one, but haggis is the national dish of Scotland, so check it out if you want the true Scottish experience.
- China and Hong Kong: dim sum Because Asian food is so readily available in the United States, you may have tried dim sum before. Order it in Hong Kong or China, however, for an authentic experience. Dim sum are small bite-sized portions of food (like dumplings or steamed barbeque pork buns) traditionally served with tea.
- Germany: spaetzle Germany is known for its diverse array of food options, so you really can’t go wrong with a nice bratwurst or schnitzel, but If I could only recommend one thing, be sure to try the spaetzle. Spaetzle are traditional German egg noodles typically served as a side dish to a meat course, but they’re good enough to stand alone as well.