They say that travel broadens the mind, but it also opens up new flavour combinations to the taste buds and allows you to enjoy dishes you’ve never dreamed of before. Sampling local specialities and finding out about the surprising and delicious food eaten all over the world are highlights of any trip, so here are some of the dishes you should try in specific locations across the globe.
Fugu in Japan
Fugu is puffer fish and also the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world, meaning it must be prepared properly in order to prevent harm being done to the diner. That is why in Japan, where it is a speciality, chefs that put fugu on the menu must have a special licence to show they are adept at ensuring it is safe to eat. Those who are prepared to risk their lives for the delicacy say that fugu is delicious and well worth trying.
Cobb salad in the USA
Salad may not be the dish you must associate with the US, but this version, which was invented in the 1930s in Hollywood is a sure fire winner. Legend has it that Robert Howard Cobb, proprietor of the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant came up with the recipe by throwing together what he could find in the fridge and covering it in salad dressing. The ingredients can be remembered using this mnemonic: EAT COBB – egg, avocado, tomato, chicken, onion, bacon and blue cheese, with lettuce and dressing then added to complete the dish.
Nasi lemak in Malaysia
Originally a breakfast dish, nasi lemak has become so popular that it can be found and eaten at any time of the day throughout Malaysia. Traditionally served on a banana leaf, this rice, coconut milk and pandan leaf dish can be eaten hot or at room temperature. The creamy texture of the steamed rice works especially well when combined with sambal, a hot sauce used as a condiment across Malaysia. Other garnishes, such as cucumber, anchovies, peanuts and hard boiled eggs are often added.
Shawarma in the UAE
One of the most widely available and certainly most affordable dishes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is shawarma. This fresh pita bread stuffed with shavings of lamb, chicken, beef or turkey and often a combination of these is like a much more authentic version of the Friday night kebab. Finished off with hummus, tahini and hot sauce, it is full of fresh flavours and a real assault on the taste buds.
Mole in Mexico
Eating a chocolate-based sauce with savoury dishes may not initially sit well with many people, but once you’ve tried mole you’ll never go back. Originally from the Puebla and Oaxaca areas of Mexico, the chocolate is combined with up to 100 ingredients, including delicious spices to create a sauce that is used with everything from chicken to enchiladas. Now popular in many parts of Mexico, each region has its own variety, so if you get hooked while on a multi-centre holiday in the country, you can try then all.
And for dessert…
Lamington cake in Australia
Often described as the national dessert of Australia, this square-shaped cake is covered in a layer of chocolate icing and topped with desiccated coconut. Accounts differ as to whether the confection was named after Lord Lamington, governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, His wife, Lady Lamington, or the small village in Scotland, which also claims the moniker. Either way, a lamington is a delicious cake to enjoy with a cup of coffee and can be found at cafes across Australia.
Avocado ice cream in Vietnam
While most of us are used to enjoying avocados in savoury dishes and salads, the little green ingredient is actually a fruit and used as such in Vietnam. Popular treats include avocado shakes and ice cream, where the flesh of the fruit provides a particularly silky texture to recipes. The avocado is usually combined with cream, milk and condensed milk, giving it a definite sweetness, but is perfect for enjoying in the heat of a Vietnamese day.