I travel to eat so I do a little bit of research ahead of time to discover what the typical or most traditional food is in a place. What is it known for? Some places are easy while others require a little bit of digging. It's one reason we love food tours. There's nothing better to me than being able to sit down and enjoy delicious, authentic local food. So if you're visiting these places around the globe what must you eat? I've asked some fellow travelers “when you're here you must eat this.”
When You're in Bangkok You Must Eat Pad Thai at the “home” of pad thai Thip Samai
Do you know the history of how this dish came to be? It's as fascinating as the dish itself! Chris of One Weird Globe suggests that when you're in Bangkok you must eat pad thai – but not just anywhere, eat it at Thip Samai the alleged place where it all started!
When You're in Mexico You Must Eat Chocolate
I‘ve never met any kind of Mexican food I didn't like but Inma of A World to Travel says if you're visiting this amazing country you must eat chocolate. Mexico has a long history of making and consuming chocolate. It's even found in savory things like molé.
When You're in Peru You Must Eat Cuy
You may be able to guess what cuy is by the picture but just in case, it's guinea pig. Sure this might sound strange to those of us who've maybe kept these animals as pets, but it's a major source of meat in Peru. Vicky from Buddy the Traveling Monkey shares her experience of a whole guinea pig ending up on her plate – and how it tasted.
When You're in Australia You Must Drink Coffee
The one country that Starbucks hasn't made an inroads? It's Australia. Paula of Contented Traveller proudly boasted to me that people must drink coffee in Australia, because it's the best in the world. They're coffee snobs if you will!
When You're in Singapore You Must Eat fish sperm
You may have eaten fish eggs (caviar) but what about fish sperm? Paul of A Luxury Travel Blog shares that this ingredient was presented as a part of a soup served in winter months. It's origins are Japanese but Singapore is such a melting pot of cultures it's no surprise to find it on the menu.
You Must Eat Bear When You're in Finland
Eating bear isn't so foreign to me. Where I grew up it was very normal to hunt and eat bears. In Finland this tradition also holds true. Bear is prepared and served in any number of ways with a special delicacy being the paws cooked in goose fat, but it can set you back nearly 150€ a serving.
When You're in Singapore You Must Eat Murtabak at Zam Zam
My friend Ian of Where the Sidewalk Ends suggests you try murtabak at Zam Zam in Singapore. what is murtabak you ask? It's an Indian dish that's a bit like a pizza, or a pide, or other bread based dish with toppings, and is dipped into curry sauce while eating. I think a trip to Singapore is in order just to eat this!
When You're in the Philippines You Must Eat Fish Tinola OR a Sea Urchin
It's not a surprise that seafood is a big deal in the Philippines. The country is made up of more than 7,000 islands! Aleah of Solitary Wanderer suggests when you're visiting you must eat fish tinola or sea urchins, she even shares how to eat a sea urchin – it's not as tricky as you might think.
When You're in Spain You Must Eat Cold Soup
Cold soup is a standard in Spain and if you're visiting it's a must. Salmorejo (pictured here) is a staple in southern Spain. But there are plenty more. Paula shares more in her post detailing the top seven cold soups in Spain. Which one would you choose?
When You're in Milan or Modena Italy You Must Eat Vitello Tonnato
Vitello Tonnato is poached veal that is left to cool and then thinly sliced. It's often paired with a salad and is very popular in the cities of Modena and Milan. Brenda of Dish Our Town shares this dish and more
When You're in Laos You Must Eat Laap
Heather from Conversant Traveller suggests trying laap when you're in Laos. Laap is a specialty dish in this Asian country. It's a dish made from the stomach and/or intestines of a buffalo and eaten with an herb salad. It might not be for everyone but should be given a try.
When You're in Hungary You Must Eat Pogacsa
You don't need to convince me to eat anything found in a bakery and like Adelina of Pack Me To it's a stop I always make no matter where we are. It's amazing what you learn about cultures via the foods found in their bakeries! Pogacsa are a mix between a scone and croissant. I'm certain they're 100% amazing.
When You're in Berlin You Must Eat Vegan Kebabs
Berlin has won “Vegan Capital of the Year” for as long as Dave of Angloitalian can remember, and the vegan kebabs surely must be the reason why. Heard of the Döner, now meet the Vöner. Is it possible to recreate this common street food found on the streets of German without the meat? Yes, it is.
When You're in Croatia You Must Eat Black Rice
Don't let the the thought of black rice drive you away. Sure it has an ominous appearance but looks aren't everything! SJ of Chasing the Donkey shares a recipe for this dish on her website and explains the dish is made using the ink sack of a calamari. If you love seafood – this is for you.
When You're in Moss Landing, CA You Must Eat Cioppino
Cioppino is an Italian-American fish stew and a cousin of classic Mediterranean dishes like brodetto found in the Abruzzo region of Italy. The dish is simple tomatoes + wine + whatever seafood is fresh that day. Cooked down to make a savory broth with pieces of the sea in every bite. Penny of Adventures of a Carry On says some of the best can be found in Moss Landing, CA at Phil's Fish Market.
When You're in Berlin You Must Eat Currywurst
Like the döner, currywurst is a product of immigrants who arrived in Germany post-WWII to help rebuild the country. Carole of Travels with Carole describes currywurst as sausages that are cut, dusted with curry and topped with sauce. The ultimate late night food.
When You're in Argentina You Must Eat Empanadas
It seems almost every country has it's own version of a handheld pie. In the case of Argentina it's an empanada. There are a number of different fillings but the idea is the same – encase something delicious with something more delicious! Laura of Savored Journeys shares a recipe for empanadas from the Malbec region of Argentina if you want to try it at home.
When You're in Bulgaria You Must Eat Shopska Salad
This entry should probably be about the food you can't avoid eating in Bulgaria – shopska salad. It's everywhere, on every menu and served almost religiously. It's basic ingredients are simple but full of flavor. The best part? Loads of Bulgarian cheese on top. There's plenty of other great Bulgarian foods in Sofie of Wonderful Wanderings post on great Bulgarian food.
When You're in Scotland You Must Eat a Deep Fat Fried Mars Bar
Image via Flickr CC – Christian Cable
Here I thought Americans were the only ones who fried things like candy bars. Gemma of Two Scots Abroad proves me wrong! I won't be trying haggis in Scotland, but there's a good chance I'd give a deep fried Mars bar a shot.
When You're in Beijing You Must Eat Sugared Ear
Yes, this is exactly what you think it is, or is? In reality sugared ear is the name of a dessert so even the squeamish can enjoy. Marie of Orient Excess gives the DL on this dish and many others you'll find in Beijing – especially if you take the food tour she did. .
When You're in Kinsale, Ireland You Must Eat Beef Burgers
Sanket of Nomadic Lives shared this delicious Irish “must eat” When you're in Kinsale – a small port-city in Ireland (close to Cork), you must eat some of the home-made Beef burgers and drink the organic orange juice at the Farmer's Market. It's outright the most delightful beef-burger I've ever had in my life.
When You're in Florence You Must Eat Blue Cheese Pear Tortellini
Of course you know in Italy you must eat pasta but there are dozens if not hundreds of varieties based on regions. When we were in Florence M had the most amazing spinach and cheese gnocchi. But Menorca of Europe diaries highly recommends trying blue cheese and pear tortellini if you're in this city.
When You're in Southern Germany You Must Eat Dumplings with Mushroom Sauce
Menorca also suggested this dish when in the southern Germany region of Tubingen. There's no dispute that Germans make some of the best comfort food around. This certainly sounds like a winner and reminds me of a dish I've eaten in eastern Germany many, many years ago. Bring on the dumplings.
When you're in Ecuador You Must Eat Empanada de Viento
You'll find empanadas everywhere in the Spanish speaking world but every country, perhaps even every town does it their own way. Lance of Travel Addicts suggests trying empanada de viento in Ecuador. They are giant, cheese stuffed empanadas – hard to get it wrong!
When You're in Marrakech You Must Eat Tangia
My personal addition to this list is tangia in Marrakech. Tangia is different from tajine and you'll only find it in Marrakech. Lamb is slow cooked in earthenware pots all night until ti's falling apart and infused with flavor. Don't leave the city without eating this at least once.
When You're in Helsinki You Must Eat Blini at Lasipalatsi
It may not be easy to try this dish, as it's only available for a short window in January. But, if you're visiting then you MUST try it. The blini lunch we ate in Helsinki was easily one of my favorite meals ever. Customize it how you like or order all the toppings to mix and match. Oh, and go to Lasipalatsi to eat them, you're in for a treat.
Want to know more about culinary travel? I've got dozens of posts dedicated to just this! I know this is merely the tip of the iceberg, so if you have other destinations with must-try food, please share in the comments!