The Best Things We Ate on our Trip Around the World
A lifetime ago (or in 2012), we traveled around the world for a full year. We visited 5 continents, 25 countries and a countless number of tourist attractions, historical sites, and natural wonders. We stayed in a tented camp in the middle of the Serengeti, with the sound of wild animals all around us, raced past the Pyramids on Arabian horses, and soared high above the fascinating geography of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon.
To say that it was the experience of a lifetime is understating it. Majorly.
Funnily enough though, when I think about that astonishing year, more often than not, my thoughts are of all the delectable foods we got to sample from all over the world. I mean, what could be better than eating Pasta Bolognese in Bologna, or Turkish Delight in Istanbul.
Our overwhelming desire to taste the world’s food always trumps weight considerations, but we might have overdone it just a wee bit. I’m pretty sure we gained at least 5-10 kilos between us that year.
Was it worth it? Absolutely.
After a quick stopover in North America to visit friends and family, we began our RTW in earnest in South America. We spent 3 months exploring and eating our way through Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.
Overall, we weren’t incredibly thrilled with the cuisine of South America (Peru being the notable exception), but there were a few stand-out dishes that I still dream about eating. Tangy, savoury ceviche in Lima, fresh mango smoothies in Rio and tender filet mignon and grilled pineapple sandwiches at Cervantes fill my thoughts over and over.
And though Argentina is often thought of as one of the best “steak” countries in the world, in my books, Uruguay’s chivito sandwich and picanha cut of beef destroyed any meat we ate in Argentina.
Our stops in Cape Town and Tanzania were full of flavourful foods. Cape Town because the city offered high quality meals from almost every corner of the world. Delicious Thai curries, fantastic Greek lamb chops and tantalizing seafood could be had easily and affordably, and indulge we did.
But it’s the food of Tanzania’s “Spice Island,” Zanzibar that really tickled my tastebuds in Africa. There’s a world of flavours mixed into many dishes in Zanzibar, from spiced coffee, to Indian inspired seafood curries with an African twist, to Middle Eastern style pitas accompanied by herbed butter and uniquely seasoned dips.
A lot of our most memorable meals happened in Europe. It’s also where we packed on the most pounds. Coincidence? I think not.
The truth is I could fill an entire post with blog-worthy meals from Italy, and narrowing it down to just a few bests was darn near impossible. I managed though, and ravioli with huge shavings of truffle, a cheese board creatively paired with vegetable jams, and an insane antipasto from a meal I’m still drooling over, made the cut.
As for the doughnut? Well, in Italy, even this humble snack is elevated to a level of deliciousness that’s hard to describe. The ciambella or Italian doughnut as I like to think of it, graced my plate, along with a perfect cappuccino, at least 2 or 3 times a week, during our travels there. Did I mention we were there for longer than a month?
The cuisine of Greece is definitely in my top 5. Could there be anything more satisfying than dawdling over a breakfast of Greek yogurt and honey, right before diving into a flawless, blue sea?
From briny olives, to comforting moussaka to savoury stuffed tomatoes, nearly everything I put in my mouth in Greece was utterly divine. But it’s the simple things that gave me the most pleasure. A 2 euro gyros pita stuffed with tzatziki, lamb, pork, veggies and fries that can be found on any street corner, or a huge plate of small fish battered, deep-fried and sprinkled with fresh lemon at a seaside taverna – these are the things I dream about eating again.
My hubby has a kind of embarrassing habit of climbing trees and picking fruit. He’ll do it anywhere. Even in the middle of a super-busy, crowded street in cosmopolitan Seoul. It’s definitely garnered him more than a few strange looks.
During our travels in Albania though, I realized that this is a habit that’s been passed down for generations. Of course, picking figs on the side of the road in the Mediterranean makes a lot more sense than trying to pick the fruit from the sad trees of the city…and is way more delicious!
This small country is known for good chocolate, waffles and beer, but it’s the frites I crave the most of all. Potatoes double-fried in beef fat, extra-crispy and served with mayo, unless mussels are in season. Then you get them with a side of mussels, or is it vice-versa? :p
Many countries in Asia and Europe have some version of baklava, but the Turkish version is the best hands down. At least to me. Layer upon layer of super flaky pasty, filled with nuts, and just the right amount of sweetness, it’s a dessert we indulged in over and over again.
We wound up in Israel in the middle of a break in the cease-fire, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying all the culinary offerings of Jerusalem, despite the rockets aimed at it. Huge cups of fresh pomegranate juice squeezed right before our eyes, along with super-stuffed falafels and shwarma made up many a budget-friendly (and delicious) meal.
Our first meal in Mumbai was also the most memorable. And not just because of the new friend we made. 🙂 A fresh and flavourful fish thali set, and a perfect rendition of one of my old favourites, chicken biryani, had our mouths watering for Indian food from the start.
I’ve already waxed poetic about the Lachedar stuffed parantha from Cochin’s Dal Roti, but I don’t mind including it here again. It’s just that good.
Bali was one of the final stops on our year-long RTW journey, and by that time, all I wanted was a fresh, homemade salad. Fortunately, I found an amazing version at Cafe Vespa in Ubud. A huge wooden bowl of fresh greens and veggies, accompanied by lemon tahini dressing, set my stomach right, just in time for babi guling or roast suckling pig at Anthony Bourdain recommended Ibu Oka.
Word to the wise though, on our last trip through Ubud, Ibu Oka’s restaurant had transformed into what felt like a tourist conveyer belt. My advice? Seek out one of the local favourites. I wish we had.
Is there anything on this list you’d like to try? What are the most amazing things you’ve eaten on your travels?