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?
SueT唐 梦 琇
What an amazing twelve months. What sensational food. Excellent post.
It was definitely one of the best year’s of my life! And all the amazing food certainly helped to make it memorable. The only problem is that now I crave too many things all the time!!! 🙂
SueT唐 梦 琇
Ha ha. I completely understand. And sometimes when we return to our homes we cannot find the same great food as we had overseas – damn!!!
Agree with you about South American food, but I still miss the chicken and avocado sandwiches in Chile.
I was told that Argentina no longer free ranges a lot of its beef, they’re using the space to grow soy beans for China. Uruguay beef (totally delicious!) is still free range.
Ohh we never made it to Chile…def will have to go back one day to explore what we missed! And what I would give for another Uruguayan picanha… yum yum yum!!
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Gosh..this is awesome list! Your post is successfuly making me hungry.
I love Indian food for its vindaloo curry; Indonesian food for its satays and sambal; Italian food for amazing pasta..
I have never been to Vietnam either but I love their fresh dish like the springroll and bun noodle. Oh well, if only the Vietnamese food taste in the Netherlands and France similar to the ones in Vietnam! (Unfortunately the Vietnamese food we tried in US does not meet our expectation)
Oh, it’s unfortunate that the Vietnamese in the US is not as tasty as what you’re used to! I actually find the Vietnamese food in Canada where I grew up, much better than what we have here in Seoul, strangely enough. But then again, there’s a huge Vietnamese community there, so it’s no wonder. Not so much here in Korea. Hope you’re settling in well in your new home though. 😀
It’s always the food that sticks, isn’t it?!?! That’s what happens for us too. When we start to reminisce about a trip, we inevitably go back to the crab encrusted halibut and the steak with stilton sauce and the pad thai from that one particular vendor down that one particularly dodgy alley. And when we revisit a place, the first items on our list are always food related. The food, man! It’ll get ya!
Haha!! Pad thai from one particularly dodgy alley sounds strangely familiar! Crab encrusted halibut on the other hand sounds like all kinds of gastronomic heaven. It is the food that sticks…and happily so. 😀
If you ever find yourself in Florence, Oregon I highly *HIGHLY* recommend having the halibut at The Waterfront Depot. It changed my life. Seriously.
Fantatsic list, I would also love to take a year off to do it justice!
A year of travel was beyond my wildest dreams, and all the amazing food we got to eat along the way, made it even better!! 🙂
This all looks amazing! So many times food is one of the highlights of the trip. Rome is definitely on my list, and it’s partially because it sounds delicious.
Rome is such an amazing city to visit, not just for the history, but definitely also because of the food. 🙂 Though if you do make it there, please, please take a day trip out to Arricia and have a meal. That antipasto is from there, and it’s one of the most incredible meals I’ve ever had. Those olives….I still dream about them! 🙂
Anything here I’d like to try? … Yes, everything! Food and its sensory memories are what I remember most from many trips also. We share many of the same destinations, but our food memories are, as they say “same, same, but different”! I don’t even eat meat any more, but the smell of gyro meat makes me so relaxed and happy, as if I’m still on a busy Athens street. Frites with mayonnaise = my brother and his family in the Netherlands. And on and on … but you have lots of dishes here I’ve not had, so it was fun to read of them and where you had them. Someday I hope to make a trip like yours!
Oh man, what I’d give to eat a gyros right about now. They way they put the fries inside those things in Greece is inspired, and I don’t know why other countries don’t also do it. I’d love to hear about which destinations we’ve shared, and what you ate that was different! 🙂
Well, we share Israel, Jordan, Palestine, China, South Africa, Tanzania, all of your South American countries … and pretty much all of Europe! Like you, I loved the mix of flavors and cuisines in Tanzania, I became enamored with pickled cucumbers (strange, I know) in Finland, I ate Israeli salads until I was stuffed in Jerusalem, we ordered basket after basket of dumplings in Xi’an, and I have filled up on every bread in every country, from rustic Italian loaves to soft pitas to black bread in Ireland to …
You have covered so much more of Asia than I have, but you are a tad closer! That will be my next major push. I did love Nepal and its Indian-Influenced cuisine, and in Tibet they (oddly) make the best tomato soup I’ve ever had!
Pickled cucumbers in Finland? Haha I wish I had found those there myself…I wasn’t too thrilled with what we found to eat there. 🙂 But the food in Jerusalem was among the best we had in the world. Everything so fresh and flavourful! And I’m with you on the dumplings in China, though we had them mostly in Beijing…perfect on a freezing cold, winter day.
I’m so glad that we’ve been able to travel so much of Asia, and it’s definitely related to where we happen to live. I wish I’d had more of this attitude when I lived in North America – there’s so much I missed there. Mexico, Caribbean Isles, even central America is so much more accessible. Of course, I was also broke then so it wouldn’t have been so different than in was. Lol. I do hope you make it to my home country one day – Korea is a little under most traveler’s radar, but it’s such a wonderful place to visit, and the food is among the best in the world. 🙂
That made me hungry.
I agree with you on the Greek food. Greek salad, greek yogurt – yes. But I loved how I could get a gyro for super cheap and it was delicious. Everything is so fresh.
India, Greece and Thailand would have to be my top 3 food countries overall. I agree with you on the Turkish Baklava. So good.
Okay, I’m going to make a snack now.
Gyros are so delicious…wish I could eat one right now. 🙂 Totally with you on India, Greece and Thailand. Those 3 are among my top food countries as well…along with Korea and Italy….for now. Will have to get to some other places soon to sample some more foods. I have a feeling Vietnam could end up on that list, if ever I got there to try out the food!