Food travel is a different way to travel. It’s exploring a culture through its food. We try to learn from the food we eat and the people we meet. And I believe it’s not nearly as shallow as just eating until you are stuffed, and then eating some more. But it’s rather a clear reflection on the importance of generosity and hospitality and the significance of food in the various cultures.
10 Destinations if you are Traveling for Food
Let us look at the top 10 in a little more detail as suggested by most of the travel enthusiasts in the recent past.
The spectrum of Vietnamese dishes is surprisingly refined and diverse for such a small country. Each city, even each village may have its own list of unique local specialties. When we talk Vietnamese food the items that pop to mind are Phở, Bánh mì and spring rolls. Also rice in many forms (steamed, sticky, noodles, pancakes, porridge), lots of fish sauce, herbs (mint, cilantro, lemongrass), seafood, pork, beef, chicken, and tropical fruits (rambutan, banana, papaya, mango, etc.), with borrowed flavors from the French imperialists and nearby countries like Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and China.
Greece has long been a family holiday favorite with its beautiful blue waters, child-friendly beaches and abundance of flavour-packed fare. Make sure you don’t miss out on their olive oil moistened delicacies. A mainstay of any Greek meals is classic dips such as tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, and garlic), melitzanosalata (aubergine), and fava (creamy split pea purée). But the delectable taramasalata (fish roe dip) is a must. This creamy blend of pink or white fish roe with either a potato or bread base is best with a drizzle of virgin olive oil or a squeeze of lemon. Also try Dolmades (rice cooked in a leaf), Moussaka (meat and veg layered baked dish), grilled meat and Loukoumades (Greek doughnuts).
Indian cuisine reflects a 5,000-year history of various groups and cultures interacting with the subcontinent, leading to the diversity of flavors and regional cuisines found in modern-day India. If you are into curries this will be one heaven of a trip for both meat lovers and vegetarians. Begin with the street food and move up to the top restaurants with their own specialty. Don’t forget to try butter chicken, vindaloo, biryani, kofta, Tarka Daal, korma, pakora, dhokla, dosa, sambar, jalebi, uthapam, lassi and a hundred others. Another way to understand the food of India would be to go to their temples, gurudwaras, and masjids and participate in food prep and distribution to the visitors.
This city is home to some of the most food-obsessed people in the world and produces an alarming array of food items ranging from the stubbornly traditional to unselfconscious fusion foods, each more drool-worthy than the next. Hong Kong offers a stunning array of delicacy from street food to Michelin Star Rated Restaurants, visitors are spoilt for choices available. The list includes Kau Kee Beef Brisket, dim sum at the world famous 1 Michelin Star Tim Ho Wan, egg tarts at Tai Cheong Bakery and Yat Lok Roast Goose.
Over the centuries, the Malay Peninsula saw ships arriving from the Middle East, India, Europe, China and Indonesia. This resulted in a melting pot of culture and cuisine that has managed to retain its own unique flavor to this day. Malaysian food is heavily influenced by Thai, Chinese, Indonesian and Indian cuisine. These influences extend from the use of the wok to the combinations of spices used in many popular dishes. Malay food is generally spicy and rice is an essential staple. Nasi lemak (‘fatty rice’), a dish of rice steamed with coconut milk and served with dried anchovies (ikan bilis), peanuts, hardboiled eggs, dried shrimp, cucumber, and sambal, is considered Malaysia’s national dish. Other good ones include Roti canai, Curry laksa, Mee Goreng, Popiah and Fish head curry.
Japanese apply the same precision to their food as they do to their engineering, taking their love for food a step further than most nationalities. With its stunning natural landscape and strong cultural identity, Japan is a once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination. Forget sushi try Ramen (egg noodles in a salty broth), Unagi (river eel grilled over charcoal), Tempura (batter-coated seafood and vegetables fried), Kaiseki (a bunch of small courses), Soba (long, thin buckwheat noodles ), Shabu-Shabu (slices of beef or pork in bubbling broth), Tonkatsu (breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet) and Yakitori (charcoal grilled chicken).
Thailand’s food needs little introduction. From San Francisco to Sukhothai, its profusion of exotic flavors and fragrances make it among the most coveted of international cuisines. Bangkok and Chiang Mai are the country’s big culinary centers, boasting the cream of gourmet Thai restaurants and the best international cuisines. To get a wider array of low-cost food, it’s sometimes best to head for the local night market where you see gatherings of open-air night-time kitchens found in every town. The items to look for are Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup), Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad), Tom Kha Kai (Chicken in Coconut Soup), Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry), Pad Thai (Thai style Fried Noodles) and Pad Krapow Moo Saap (Fried Basil and Pork).
Modena, Italy is where you’ll find the world’s best Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Italian food has enslaved taste buds around the globe for centuries, with its zesty tomato sauces, those clever things they do with wheat flour and desserts that are basically vehicles for cream. Italian food and wine are probably as famous as Italy’s artistic and historical assets: think of Italian wines such as Chianti, Amarone and Barolo, of their specialty foods, like Buffalo Mozzarella, or of fresh produce such as truffles and olives, that are so much part of their cuisine to have become almost a symbol of it. Italian food is bold and satisfying without being heavy. It’s rich and textural and uses a whole palette of flavors. You probably eat Italian often wherever you are but doing it in Rome or Bologna is a totally different experience.
In the Philippines, food is a serious pastime. Filipinos tend to usually eat 6 times a day, with rice forming part of every meal. Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to the elaborate paellas and cocidos created for fiestas of Spanish origin. Popular dishes include: lechón (whole roasted pig), longganisa (Philippine sausage), tapa (cured beef), torta (omelette), adobo (chicken and/or pork braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce), kaldereta (meat in tomato sauce stew) and mechado (larded beef in soy and tomato sauce). You can try Balut (duck embryo) as well if you really feel brave.
Numero uno. The culinary philosophy in Taiwan is simple. Eat often and eat well. Small eats but lots of them are the big things here. The island’s food is a mash-up of the cuisine of the Min Nan, Teochew and Hokkien Chinese communities, along with Japanese cooking. The Taiwanese capital, Taipei, alone has around 20 streets dedicated to snacking. And then there’s Tainan, Taiwan’s oldest city, which is often referred to as its food capital. Here are the 5 classic Taiwanese dishes: niu rou mian (beef noodle soup), lu rou fan (Fatty Minced Pork on Rice), oya misua (Oyster Vermicelli), Ba wans (Taiwanese Meatballs) and Chitterlings.