One of the great things about living in the UK is that it is an incredible place to experience a wide variety of different culinary styles. It’s not difficult to find restaurants specialising in the cuisine of countries belonging to every continent of the world.
However, as good as these restaurants are, there are certain dishes that should really be experienced in their birthplace. It isn’t a question of authenticity, it’s a question of preparing the mind for the ultimate meal by drinking in the surroundings and atmosphere of a country before tasting its signature dish.
What follows is a list of some the tastiest dishes where it really pays to go the extra mile (or hundreds of miles) to experience it in its home country.
France: Haute Cuisine
Arguably the world’s premier culinary nation, the French refinement of Haute Cuisine (literally: high food) has left them with an international reputation for exquisite food with elaborate preparation and presentation displayed in both the county’s restaurants and the homes of its people.
It’s worth travelling to France to sample pretty much anything and everything they put on your plate. From iconic Foie Gras, Cassoulet, Crème Brulee and Tarte Tatin to the provincial specialities like Beef Bourguignon and Ratatouille, it’s extremely hard to avoid finding at least one dish that you’ll fall in love with.
Spain’s paella is as much a delight to look at as it is to eat. With such an abundance of fresh fish, shellfish, vegetables, rice and meats (for mixed paella) every spoonful that is heaped onto your plate is going to be a culinary adventure all of its own.
For the best results, find your idyllic Spanish coastal spot and order up this unique delight with some of Spain’s finest offerings in the wine department. You can’t go wrong with an accompanying glass of Rioja.
Equally popular with healthy eaters and hearty eaters across Europe, Australia, Asia and America, the making of sushi is considered to be a most delicate art form by the Japanese.
While exquisite sushi is widely available in most developed countries, nowhere will you find it in such abundance than in Japan itself.
Versatile, delicate and endlessly varied, sushi can really offer something special for every palette.
Argentinean steakhouses have gained such popularity that they are springing up all over the world. Their beef is second to none and as such it remains an absolutely vital export product for Argentina.
While you can get a wonderful Argentinean steak in Amsterdam, London, Paris or even Bangkok, there’s nothing quite like a glorious slab of beef, cooked to perfection while you soak up the steamy night’s atmosphere of Buenos Aires.
America: Chesapeake Blue Crabs
The Chesapeake Bay is the United States’ largest estuary that touches parts of no less than six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Not only is the bay a vast and beautiful body of water, it’s also home to some of the tastiest crustaceans in the world in the form of the Chesapeake Blue Crab!
Regardless of how they’re prepared, you’re always in for a mighty feast if you choose to dine on the Chesapeake’s finest. Just make sure you ready to get stuck in and get messy, it’s the best way to enjoy them!
Tamales are not unique to Mexico, as they are a firm favourite of Latin America as a whole, but Mexico sure can dish them out in truly memorable style.
The masa (corn-based dough) is usually mixed with meats, cheese, vegetables or a wonderful combination of all three and then carefully parcelled up in leaf wrapping before being steamed or boiled.
What you end up with is a hot little pocket of intensely locked-in flavour that just bursts out across your taste buds.
South Africa: Biltong
South Africa’s most iconic cured meat isn’t simply from one type of animal, it is the combination of filleted strips of raw meat from beef to game that are then spiced before being allowed to cure.
Brazil: Chicken Hearts
While feasting on the hearts of animals may not sound ultimately appetising, in Brazil’s case it’s well worth putting aside any squeamish thoughts and tucking into this alternative treat. Chicken hearts form just one part of the overwhelming meat assault that is a Brazilian barbecue and their succulent flavour has to be tasted to be believed.
Poland: Kielbasa Sausage
Eastern Europe is a Mecca for sausage lovers as the Slavic culinary culture loves strong, hearty flavours. Kielbasa is a catch-all term for all types of sausage, covering local, country, smoked or cured sausages made up of dozens of varieties with pork, lamb, veal, venison, turkey, horse or even bison forming this most noble meaty treat!
Thailand: Sticky Rice and Mango
With such an incredible variety of fragrant and inviting dishes in Thai cuisine, the relatively simple dessert of sticky rice and fresh mango might seem like an odd choice. However, after a sumptuous Thai meal, if you happen to have any room left then this is definitely the way to go.
The simplicity of the dessert is part of its appeal. The strong, heady flavour of the sticky rice perfectly complements the light and fresh mango counterpoint.
So what dish would you travel miles in order to have in its home country? Let us know in the comments below.