One of the most memorable aspects of traveling is a country’s food. Cuisines play an integral part in defining a nation’s culture – and whether you’re sampling a local delicacy at a street market, being entertained by a family in their home, or dining out at an upmarket restaurant, here is a list of must-eat foods around the globe.
This is just a small taste (no pun intended) of dishes… but the world is your oyster, and there’s many more foods to try!
1. Croque Madame
A classic breakfast that you will find in any brasserie, it’s a great way to start your day. If you are tired of croissants and baguettes, a Croque Madame is a kind of fried egg and cheese sandwich, topped with grated cheese. If you eat this without the fried egg, the French call it a Croque Monsieur.
This soup originated in the Ukraine and is popular throughout Eastern and Central Europe. Borscht has dozens of variations, but beetroot is a core ingredient, as well as stock and sauteed vegetables. Try it both hot and cold.
If you’re keen on fermented vegetables and spicy food, this is the dish for you. The main ingredient of this Korean side dish is Chinese cabbage, which is also flavored with onions, garlic, and red pepper. You’ll find this dish in every Korean household.
4. Pasta Carbonara
This dish originated in Rome and is a pasta cooked with cream sauce, eggs, pancetta (a sliced bacon) and olive oil. It is usually served in a round dish and topped with Parmesan cheese. The most critical piece of making Carbonara is that the pasta should be boiled al dente.
This Greek fast food is cheap and delicious. Made with beef, pork or chicken (as well as vegetables on occasion), this dish consists of kebabs on wooden skewers. The dish is either served on a plate with various garnishes, bread or fried potatoes, or in a pita sandwich.
This roasted ham hock (“pork knuckle”) is very popular in the Bavaria region. The meat is marinated in flavors – sometimes for up to a week. The meat is crispy on the outside and deliciously tender on the inside, and is typically served with sides such as sauerkraut or braised red cabbage or roasted potatoes.
Kitfo is a traditional dish found in Ethiopian cuisine. It consists of minced raw beef, marinated in a chili-based spice blend (mitmita) and a clarified butter infused with herbs and spices (niter kibbeh).
The ultimate communal dish, fondue is a dish of melted cheese served in a pot over heat. People dip bread into the cheese with long-stemmed forks. You may also find variations to the traditional cheese fondue – hot oil instead for a meat fondue, or melted chocolate for a tasty dipping dessert.
9. Bangers and Mash
A traditional dish from the British Isles, this delicious meal of sausages and mashed potatoes – topped with onion gravy – is perfect as a homemade dinner.
Serbia’s national dish is a spiced meat patty, prepared from a mix of beef, pork, and lamb. Served as a main course – usually with onions, milk cream, relish, and a spicy cheese salad, you’ll find this in many fast food stands across the country.
11. Tom Yum
This sour-spicy soup is flavored by a broth that includes shrimps, chicken, fish and fragrant herbs and spices such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and crushed chillis. It has a distinctive taste and has many variations – most include prawns and other seafood.
You can’t visit Japan without trying sushi. Rice and seaweed (nori) are the main ingredients that hold basically any ingredient – whether it’s meat, seafood, vegetables or egg. Sushi is always accompanied by pickled ginger, a fiery horseradish (wasabi) and soy sauce.
This dish originated in Portugal but can be found in many former Portuguese colonies, including Macau, Mozambique, and Angola. A stew of black beans with mixed beef and pork cuts, seasoned with garlic, onions and bay leaves, interestingly this dish is traditionally eaten on Saturdays (it’s so heavy that it can induce a food coma, so pace yourself!).
14. Meat Pie
The closest thing to a national dish (besides Vegemite, which is a thick food paste usually spread on toasted bread), meat pies are made with a shortcrust base and contain minced meat. Sometimes meat pies have onion, mushrooms and other ingredients inside. Whether it’s for lunch or as a snack, meat pies are quintessentially Australian – and don’t forget the tomato sauce.
15. Goi Cuon
This is a kind of spring roll, consisting of prawns, pork, rice noodles, vegetables and other delicious stuff, wrapped in rice paper. You eat this by dipping it in a hoisin or chili sauce with diced peanuts.
This mixed dish with rice, meat, vegetables and various strong spices can be found across the Indian subcontinent. The biryani meat and rice are cooked separately before being served together. Usually, it is the primary dish in a meal.
The national dish of Jordan is made with rice and meat that is cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt, then served over thin flat bread or rice. It is meant to be eaten communally – and to try this like a local, make sure to eat with your hands.
Ceviche is part of Peru’s “national heritage” and has even had a holiday declared in its honor. It is composed of chunks of raw fish (corvina or cebo – sea bass), marinated in freshly squeezed key lime or bitter orange (naranja agria) juice, with sliced onions, chili peppers, salt, and pepper.
19. Paneer Butter Masala
Paneer is a type of fresh cheese common to the Indian subcontinent, and when paired with butter masala (a type of rich tomato gravy), it is the perfect combination of creaminess and spiciness. This dish is served with rice or tandoori roti (a type of flatbread).
This Spanish national rice dish is tinted with saffron. It is usually made with a wide variety of chicken and seafood, although variations also include vegetarian options. The name of a dish comes from the Latin word patella, meaning “frying pan”.
The direct Spanish translation of this dish is “cheese tortilla”. This Mexican fast food snack consists of grilled folded tortillas stuffed with vegetables, meat or poultry, and of course – cheese.
Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for cod. Often served with potatoes, this salted cod dish is sometimes garnished with parsley, hard boiled eggs and olives.
Köttbullar – or Swedish meatballs – are perfectly round meatballs made out of pork/beef mince, and are traditionally served with mashed potato, creamy sauce and little bit of lingonberry jam.
Skip the hamburgers of the McDonalds variety and try a more homemade option. The best hamburgers include fresh bread, crunchy vegetables, melted cheese and juicy burgers, with a side of French fries.
25. Sarmale cu mamaliga
Sarmale is a stuffed cabbage roll. Mamaliga is a type of polenta, served on top or next to sarmale. It is a main dish which is usually cooked for special events, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve or any other family gathering.
26. Jerk chicken
Jerk is a style of cooking where meat is rubbed or marinated with a very hot spice mixture, that includes allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, and other ingredients. The seasoning is traditionally applied to pork or chicken, but can also be used for virtually any other meat, seafood or vegetable.
Considered the national dish of the Philippines, it involves meat (especially chicken or pork) marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, black peppercorns and garlic, then simmered in the marinade. The dish can be prepared with only a small number of ingredients but still be extremely flavorful.
28. Bunny Chow
This South African fast food dish consists of a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry. Its origins come from migrant Indian workers, who apparently found that bread was the most convenient way to carry their curries on the way to work in the sugar cane plantations.
This dish is made of rice, macaroni, and lentils mixed together with a tomato-vinegar sauce, and then topped with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. This vegetarian-friendly and filling meal can be found in roadside stalls and restaurants throughout the country and is sometimes enhanced with garlic juice and hot sauce.
Readily found throughout the Middle East, a falafel is a deep-fried ball made from ground chickpeas or fava beans. The ultimate in fast food, it is commonly served in pita bread or wrapped in a flatbread. Falafels are topped with vegetables, hot sauce, and tahini-based sauces.
Food is truly a central point in many cultures and this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the incredible dishes there are around the world. We’d love to hear your favorite dishes too, so please let us know in the comment section below.