When you’re at home, you tend to get into the same old routine when it comes to eating and dining – I know I’m totally a creature of habit. You probably prepare the same dishes at home over and over again, and there’s a good chance that you have firm favorite places to dine and preferred dishes from these venues’ menus that you opt for each time you go (hello spaghetti and meatballs!). But when you head away on vacation, cooking tends to be taken out of your own hands. You eat meals prepared by other individuals, using more local ingredients, and sticking to more local recipes. So, if you’re a bit of a foodie and also love different beverages, you should embrace this! Here are a few bits of information on different local cuisines and some ideas for different activities or days out that can expose you to some truly wonderful cuisines from around the world, both novelty and serious!
Testing Local Cuisine
If you don’t want your entire trip to be based around food, but do want food to have an impact on your overall experience of the location you’re visiting, you should take the time to research and test out local cuisine. Even if you have booked in to an all-inclusive resort, you should ask the staff for recommendations and dine out at least once or twice. There are so many benefits that come hand in hand with doing this. Not only can you get a real feel for the place you’re visiting, but you might discover new dishes that you have never tried before, and may become some of your firm favorites. Here are some different cuisines that different countries are best renowned for!
- Soupe à l’oignon (or onion soup). A traditional French soup made with onions and beef stock, so if you are vegetarian or vegan, don’t be fooled by this soup’s seemingly v-gang friendly title.
- Coq au vin. Chicken braised with wine, mushrooms, salty pork or bacon lardons, onions, garlic, and even some brandy.
- Ratatouille. Perhaps most popularized by the Disney film Ratatouille, this homely French dish is essentially a kind of oven-baked stew, consisting of tomatoes, aubergine, onions, carrots, bell peppers, and herbs.
- Creme brulee. If you’re choosing a dessert, creme brulee may well be the way to go. This translates as “burnt” cream. It is essentially a rich custard base topped with caramelized sugar.
- Pizza. Everyone’s tried pizza at some point in their life or another. But you can’t go to Italy without trying some authentic Italian pizza!
- Lasagne. Italy’s other most famous cuisine? Pasta, of course! Try out lasagne – this is a form of pasta bake composed of layers of white sauce, lasagne pasta sheets, and red sauce. Meat options will generally have minced beef in the red sauce. Vegetarian options will likely have vegetables.
- Arancini. Arancini is definitely lesser known than the aforementioned Italian dishes, but it is a delicacy that you just have to try while you are within Italy’s borders. It is essentially stuffed rice balls that are fried after being coated in breadcrumbs. Other ingredients can be added for texture and flavor, such as mozzarella, ragu, or tomato sauce.
- Ribollita. This is traditionally a poor man’s food, much like the French ratatouille. But it’s delicious and definitely worth a try. Considered one of Tuscany’s most classic dishes, ribollita is a stew of “leftover foods” such as bread and vegetables.
- Gelato. Time for dessert! Ice cream originated in Italy, and its Italian name is “gelato”! Browse a variety of different flavors, from plain options like vanilla to more experimental flavors, such as pistachio or peanut butter.
- Toronne. This sweet contains honey, egg whites, toasted nuts, and citrus zest. It comes in slabs, so ask to try a small piece before investing in a huge wedge.
- Tiramisu. Perhaps the most classic of Italian desserts is Tiramisu. It is light, creamy, and perfect for anyone with a taste for coffee, cocoa, or mascarpone cheese.
- Curry. Of course, if you are going to India, you are likely to try a curry. This is the country’s most famous dish. But bear in mind the sheer range of curries that there are out there. Some are mild, some are hot. Some are smooth and creamy, others have lentils, potatoes, and other chunky vegetables. Different regions have specialist curries. So, do a little research around the exact place you’re going and try out the local favorite or speciality.
- Vada Pav. This dish looks like a burger, but is generally actually vegetarian. It is a fusion of a potato patty and different chillies and spices, served in a bread roll (this is referred to as “pav”). It is generally served by street vendors.
- Dhokla. If you’re looking for a small snack, try out dhokla. Again, this side dish or snack is vegetarian and is composed of fermented rice and chickpeas. They are steamed, then served with a garnish of mustard seeds, coriander, or both.
- Gulab Jamun. Indian isn’t quite so renowned for its sweets or desserts. But if you have a sweet tooth, make sure to try out gulab jamun. This dish is made of khoya that is fried until it reaches a golden tone, and is then dipped in saffron-infused sugar syrup.
These are just some of the world’s most famous cuisines that are tightly tied to their country of origin. No matter what country you visit, make sure to try whatever local cuisine is on offer and is suitable for your dietary needs and preferences!
Some of us just drink a casual glass of wine when we dine out, or will have a glass of fizz or two on special occasions. But then there are the real sommeliers amongst us – those of us who can’t think of anything better than sitting down with a glass of true vintage or complementing our dinners with the perfect red or white. If you are interested in wine, you might want to try out fun winery tours. Generally speaking, it is best to plan a guided tour, we did this in Napa. This means that you will have an experienced professional who is familiar with the local area and vineyards at hand. They will be able to show you around, as well as educate you on the different types of grapes grown nearby, how the ground and climate affects their flavor, how the grapes are processed into wine, and how they are stored. You will also get to sample different types of wine, gaining insight to different notes and textures.
Sure, we may generally associate Disneyland with kids, and if you’re not a fan of Disney, I wouldn’t recommend that you head to one of their resorts solely for the food. But if you already know the complete repertoire of Disney princess songs by heart, can tell the difference between Chip and Dale, and are a foodie all at once, we can almost guarantee that Disneyland snacks and treats will leave you feeling more than thrilled. The different food options available will vary from one resort to another, and you are likely to find themed snacks over different holiday seasons. Year round, you are likely to find waffles in the shape of Mickey Mouse, candy apples with Disney themed icing, crepes with a variety of fillings, and popcorn in traditional red and white striped tubs to nibble on while watching the parade or firework display. Perhaps the next biggest themed snacks you can look forward to are Halloween specials. Watch out for Mickey Cinnamon Rolls, Not-So-Poison-Apple Cupcakes, Minnie Witch Brownies, Candy Corn Milkshakes, Candy Corn Ice Cream, and Marshmallow Wands – makes me want to book a flight right now!
Street food has become a hit across the world and refers to food that is sold from small trucks or carts located on streets. It is a convenient way to snack, so wherever you are, consider trying some different delicacies offered by street food vendors. Just make sure to be vigilant when it comes to health and safety. It is much harder to prepare clean food in a sterile environment when you are on the street rather than in an enclosed and controlled environment. Make sure that food you have ordered is prepared in front of you. This can allow you to oversee how it is cooked, what ingredients are used, and that clean equipment is used. It also guarantees that the food is served to you fresh and that it hasn’t been sitting on the side for a while before you purchase it.
All of this talk of food probably has your mouth watering, I’m suddenly starving! So, start doing a little research around where you’re heading away to and come up with a plan of all the different places you’d like to eat and what dishes, snacks, or drinks you might like to try! This will help you to get the most out of your destination on a culinary level!