"Food for us comes from our relatives, whether they have wings or fins or roots. That is how we consider food. Food has a culture. It has a history. It has a story. It has relationships."
~ Winona Laduke
You might have often heard your elders say if you need to learn about the culture and tradition of a place, then look at what goes on their plate! That is simply because the journey of a food reflects the history, geography and the heart and soul of a region. Over time, the ingredients and flavours of the dishes evolve, signalling economic changes, cultural exchanges and environmental influences. Thus, food is a mirror of the past and present.
Hence, as and when one can, making gastronomic journeys across the world can really add a new perspective to your travel adventures. In this blog, join us as we explore the world's top 6 food destinations to know what makes them unique and a must-try.
Topping the rankings of the world's best cuisine, French cuisine is known for its sumptuous balance of flavours and innovative use of ingredients, which are fresh and of high quality. It is said- "a dish can only be as good as its ingredients, something the French know all about." Favoured by diverse geography and climate and the presence of land and sea, the cuisine of French is as diverse as its regions. Moreover, at the heart of it is the dedication of the cooks and the collective commitment to maintaining the highest standards of culinary excellence that makes it the top cuisine in the world.
Lyon, the "gastronomic capital of France", is popular for its Bouchons culture, where small, traditional bistros serve local specialities, like Quenelles de Brochet and Salade Lyonnaise. Paris is famous for classic dishes (like Duck Confit and Macarons). At the same time, due to its Germanic influences, Alsace is best to taste Choucroute (sauerkraut with sausages) and the thin crust pizza called Tarte Flambée (with toppings of onion, bacon and other ingredients). Interestingly, in France, a meal is incomplete without the wine. Bordeaux is world-renowned for its wine tours and tastings! If you seek more variety, then the Mediterranean influence can be observed in the dishes of Provence (a must-try- Bouillabaisse, a fish stew from Marseille) and the seafood of Brittany.
Renowned for its history, art, culture and romance worldwide, Italy has equally garnered all the attention for its delicious cuisine. Besides its food expressing regional diversity and history, Italian cuisine is unique and committed to simplicity and quality. We are sure you might have experienced the joy a single bowl of pasta can provide on a lazy evening! Moreover, the beauty of Italian cuisine lies in its deep respect for ingredients. From the Amalfi Coast's sun-drenched tomatoes to Tuscany's rich olive oils, each component is a tribute to the land.
When in Italy, enjoy a plate of authentic Spaghetti Bolognese in Bologna (especially popular for its slow-cooked meat sauce); do not miss Naples's Neapolitan pizza (which has also been recognised as an Intangible Heritage by UNESCO for its contribution to bringing the communities together). Milan is especially known for its creamy perfection of Risotto (where each grain is beautifully stirred to absorb the flavours). If you are travelling South, stop at Sicily to try the deep-fried rice balls dish of Arancini filled with meat, sauce, and cheese. In the coastal regions, try fresh seafood dishes like Frutti di Mare, and no trip to Italy is complete without savouring the delectable gelato in Florence. Besides food, the wine-tasting tours in the Tuscany region are also quite popular amongst the foodies!
Do you know that UNESCO recognised Mexican cuisine as an Intangible Heritage? As per UNESCO, Mexican cuisine is the product of traditional ways of farming, ritual practices, age-old skills, unique culinary methods and customs and traditions passed down by the ancestors. Mexican food is a sensory delight, where each flavour and dish tells a tale of heritage, spice, and a deep love for food. What makes Mexican food unique is the profound connection to indigenous ingredients and ancient cooking techniques. The connection with its roots makes it one of a kind.
When in Mexico, savour the best Tacos al Pastor at Taquería El Huequito, a legendary eatery in the capital (Mexico City). Enjoy the sweet and savoury dish of Mole Poblano in Puebla (it is a unique sauce, which is a combination of chilli peppers, chocolate and spices) and don't forget to taste the traditional Mesoamerican dish of Tamales (a dish of corn dough filled with cheese, chillies, meat, etc.). Moreover, Mexico is also famous for its seafood, and you should taste Ceviche in Ensenada, a seaside gem renowned for its seafood. For a sweet treat, head to Oaxaca to try the famed Churros and the Cochinita Pibil is not to be missed in Yucatan.
Indian cuisine is world-famous for putting spices to the best use and readying a plate of vibrant colours! India's gastronomic landscape is a representation of its cultural roots, regional diversity, and time-honoured culinary traditions. It comprises a harmonious blend of aromatic spices, flavourful herbs, and culinary techniques passed down through generations. What is equally important to note is that- Indian food stands true to the nation's principle of Unity in Diversity. From the seafood of the coastal area to the simple vegetarian food of the North, there is a place for all kinds of ingredients and dishes.
Although each state of India will surprise you with at least one of its unique and sacred dishes, there are a few that you must not miss, like the street food of Old Delhi! In fact, there are some culinary institutions serving delicious non-vegetarian dishes (especially the Chicken Tikka Masala), which date back to the Mughal era. Be it paani puri (gol gappa), chaat, or parantha, each dish feels like a product of a personal story. Apart from Delhi, have a fulfilling meal of Sadya in Kerala (served on a banana leaf, Sadya features an array of simple dishes that allows one to reconnect with the body), the famous dal bati churma in Rajasthan and the coastal cuisine of Vindaloo in Go. Moreover, the street food of Kolkata recently made it to the World's Top Food Destinations Ranking, published by Eater.
Located at the confluence of Asia, the Middle East and Europe, the food of Turkey echoes centuries of history and cultural influences. In fact, the fusions of cultures seen in Turkish dishes make Turkish cuisine unique. For instance, the dish of İskender Kebab. Founded by İskender Efendi, the dish consists of thinly sliced grilled lamb or beef laid over pieces of pita bread, covered with tomato sauce and melted butter, and served with yoghurt. Interestingly, the style of cooking the kebab comes from the vertical rotisserie style cooking of the Ottoman Empire, influenced by the shawarma of the Middle East and the döner kebab of the Central Asian Turkic nations. Similarly, many Turkish dishes showcase adaptability to changing tastes and foreign influences.
Apart from tasting the already mentioned delicacy of Iskender kebab in Bursa (where it was originally founded), immerse yourself in the flavours of Istanbul with a spread of Mezes. These appetisers range from stuffed grape leaves (Dolma) to eggplant salads (Baba Ganoush). You cannot miss the sweet layers of Baklava in Gaziantep, often called the birthplace of the same. A historic shop of Baklava in Gaziantep is Güllüoğlu, which is celebrated for its traditional preparation. Further, the Adana kebab of Adana is very famous; taste Lokum that can be best experienced in the vibrant bazaars of Istanbul; savour each sip of Raki, popularly referred to as Turkey's national drink.
Do you know?
Interestingly, the best try in Turkey is the popular Turkish coffee at a local house. Apart from its distinct preparation, beyond just a drink, coffee is used to tell fortunes. Yes, you read it right! Once the coffee is consumed, the cup is turned upside down on the saucer, allowing the grounds to create patterns. These patterns are then interpreted and are said to reveal the tales of the drinker's future.
At the heart of Japanese food lies the philosophy of "shun," which emphasises the use of fresh ingredients at the peak of their flavour. This makes the food of Japan a plate of freshness, simplicity, harmony and definitely a work of art. For long, Japan's culinary scene has made itself a name at the international level, with numerous restaurants receiving Michelin stars and global recognition. What adds more beauty to a gastronomic getaway in Japan is its immersive dining experience. In Japan, whether you are at a ramen joint or a 5-star kaiseki restaurant, diners are invited to appreciate food presentation, the chef's skill of preparing and presenting, and the cultural significance of each dish.
Needless to say, Japan is ‘THE’ place to try authentic Shushi. The Tsukiji Outer Market in Tokyo is a haven for sushi lovers. Osaka is famous for Ramen, especially the Ippudo Ramen, and the Tempura dishes are a speciality of Kyoto. Undoubtedly, Japan is also famous for its seafood culture, and the best are the creamy Uni (sea urchin) and fresh seafood bowls in Hokkaido. In beverages, you must indulge in the delicate flavours of Matcha in Uji, famous for its premium green tea.
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