One thing I love most about traveling is the local cuisine. I love finding out what the locals eat and giving it a try. While I can’t say that I have the amount of stamps on my passport that well-traveled people boast, I can say that my wishlist of places to travel to and eat through is brag-worthy. There’s more worldly food to drool over than French and Italian.
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According to Reader’s Digest, there’s 10 unexpected countries you need to visit if only for enjoying their local cuisine. Check out these ten places around the world with local fare that’s sure to please your palette.
Perched at the crossroads between Italy, central Europe and the former Ottoman Empire, Croatia is a country with a complicated history—and a diverse culinary scene to match. Inland, you’ll find that central European fare dominates, with a focus on meats, cheeses, noodles, beer and fruit spirits. Visit Istria, a Croatian-Italian bilingual region that borders Italy and Slovenia, for a strong local food scene that makes the most of the region’s excellent products: look for seafood, olive oil, mushrooms, truffles and prosciutto and wash it down with wine and spirits.
Yes, they’ve got jerk chicken, Appleton Estates rum and Red Stripe beer, plus all the tropical fruit you can eat. However, there’s so much more to explore in this Caribbean nation’s food scene, often featuring ingredients difficult to find elsewhere. For breakfast, try ackee—Jamaica’s national fruit—fried up with codfish for a surprisingly egg-like dish. Broaden your carnivorous horizons by sampling stewed goat or oxtail, perhaps served with some steamed callaloo, a Jamaican leafy green. And wash it all down with a ginger beer or a glass of sorrel, the local name for sweetened, often ginger-flavored, bright-pink hibiscus tea.
Like nearby England, Germany has a reputation for boring food, but it isn’t really warranted. You might want to plan for some hikes or bike rides to burn off the plentiful and flavorful strudels, pretzels, breads, sausages, noodles, potatoes, cakes and beer. But there’s more than just sauerkraut to lighten things up: Vegetarian and vegan options are showing up on menus across the country. Visit during asparagus season and you’ll find special menus at many restaurants dedicated to the much-adored vegetable in both its green and white forms.
When a country’s children name “chef” as one of their primary “when I grow up” occupations, you know it takes food seriously. Peru’s cuisine begins with the quality of its ingredients: abundant seafood, meats and produce are found here, including many so-called superfoods that the world has only recently taken notice of, such as quinoa, amaranth, lucuma and maca. Combine this with its multicultural population—indigenous peoples plus immigrant Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and more—and you get a thriving local food scene with regional variations that is just waiting to be explored by visitors.