Today, I’m going to take a break from my usual run of topics and just write about the most delicious foods I’ve eaten abroad. Although I’ve indulged in some strange things on the road, from roasted Peruvian guinea pig (cuy) to munching on Cambodian crickets, I’ve discovered that the most delicious foods are actually pretty common fare.
However, I am going to exclude deep-fried foods on my list. I’ve had my fair share of international deep-fried delicacies, whether it be deep fried pork rinds cooked in an oil drum in Chihuahua, Mexico or Rántott Camembert, Hungarian deep-fried Camembert cheese accompanied by mayo dip served on a bed of fries, which as the heart attack inducing description suggests, should only be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As one might expect, all the above don’t differ much from the typical carnival run of artery cloggers back at home – deep-fried butter, deep-fried mars bars, deep-fried mac & cheese – or just plain old french fries.
These days, it seems that everyone is discovering that deep frying (or adding bacon) seems to make everything delicious, but I beg to differ in my list. Note that the list is biased as I don’t really have a sweet tooth, so all those New York cupcake joints and Mexican churros street carts won’t make the cut. I’ve also gone vegetarian in recent years, so there might be less meat dishes on my list. As always, I welcome new additions in the comments, because I’m sure I’ve missed a lot. Without further ado, here’s what I remember as pretty darn tasty from my travels.
Tom Yum Goong (Thailand) – A whirlwind of sweet, sour, umami, and definitely spicy flavours in one gulp, this yummy soup (no pun intended) really packs a tantalizing punch with each spoonful. Vegetarians, the mushroom version is just as good.
Paneer Makhani (India) – Most people either think of Indian food as really spicy or stick to butter chicken, which is everywhere albeit rightfully popular if done well. Since I’m a vegetarian, I prefer paneer makhani, which uses cheese cubes instead of meat. Sometimes, it’s the same masala sauce as butter chicken or chana masala (chick peas), though I’ve had versions of the tomato-based cream sauce that’s sweeter and not as spicy.
Tapas (Spain) – I’m being a bit general here, because tapas can include anything since it’s really a bunch of small dishes, making it much like Chinese dim sum or Japanese izakaya. As such, the quality can vary dramatically among restaurants, but if you find the right joint (usually the tapas aren’t rolling around a conveyor belt, a la Japanese sushi-style), it’s a real treat!
Pad Thai (Thailand) – Easily found on street stalls outside Bangkok’s malls or anywhere street-side Thailand