Travel All Over the World to Try These Authentic Cultural Dishes
Your Taste Buds Will Thank You
No experience of a new country is complete without a taste of the local flavor. Although exotic dishes may sometimes seem strange or even repulsive to outsiders, food is a cultural tradition that should be respected.
Every country around the world has a cuisine as unique as its people. If you are adventurous and wanting to truly experience the world from a food perspective, you need to add these exotic dishes to your list! Let your taste buds be your travel guide; decide where you want to go to next based on what authentic cultural dish you want to eat!
Typically a French delicacy, but enjoyed in many Western European nations, foie gras is a paté made from either duck or goose liver. Essentially, it’s a paste or spread cooked from a very fatty liver, which goes through alterations of heating and cooling before being served.
Classic recipes call for herbs de provence (French herbs) and are cooked in both milk and port.
Soft Tofu Soup
Traditional soft tofu soup involves a custardy tofu cooked with hot pepper paste and vegetables. It’s served boiling hot and a fresh egg is cracked directly into the soup at the table.
Additional toppings such as kimchi can be added, as well as meats such as pork, seafood or bulgogi beef. Once the egg has cooked, rice is added and everything is eaten altogether as an appetizer or main meal.
In the Philippines, rellenong pusit, or stuffed squid, is typically enjoyed with family as it’s cooked outside on a grill. To prepare it, the squid is first marinated in a combination of soy sauce, sugar, calamansi lime and peppercorns.
For the stuffing, pork or other meat is included along with a tomato, onion, fish sauce and a breadcrumb mixture. Once grilled to perfection, it’s sliced up and served with dipping sauce.
A popular dish in Brazil, moqueca is basically a tropical fish stew full of exotic flavors. Using your fish of choice, which is often a combination of a few different types of seafood, a broth is first created with herbs and vegetables.
Plantains and coconut milk are then included along with additional vegetables. Once the stew is cooked, it’s served with a thick breadcrumb-like side dish called farofa, and a local hot sauce called piri-piri.
Varza a la Cluj
Varza a la Cluj is one of the signature traditional dishes of the Transylvanian region in Romania. Pork and cabbage make up the the majority of the ingredients along with onion, rice, tomatoes and herbs.
Essentially, it’s a layered casserole dish much like lasagna, served in a similar block, with sour cream, hot peppers and polenta.
Birds Nest Soup
One of the most expensive exotic foods from around the world can be found in China and the Philippines. Birds nest soup is exactly what it sounds like: a soup made from dissolving the nest of a swiftlet, among chicken stock and cornstarch.
The nests can fetch up to $4,500 per pound because of how much work it takes to find them. Despite the rarity and price, tourists and locals alike enjoy the tasty soup for the novelty and its supposed medicinal properties.
Photo Credit: Rachel Ray
Moroccan Spiced Pie
Pretty much every culture has a sweet and/or savory pie dish baked in either corn- or flour-based dough. The Moroccan variety is a little bit of both and is made with filo dough.
Stuffed with a variety of fragrant spices, nuts, dried cranberries and vegetables, the pie is vegetarian-friendly and accompanied by a Harissa yogurt sauce.
Another vegetarian-friendly dish, this time from Ethiopia, is a sampler of sorts called a bayenetu. Served over the Ethiopian equivalent of a tortilla, called injera, the bayenetu offers an array of spicy pureed vegetable sauces and courses.
Many of the dishes have a legume base and are flavored with jalapeño, lemon and spices. Everything is eaten either rolled up in the injera, or sopped up with its sponge-like consistency.
The Mediterranean nations often share many of the same sort of dishes. Moussaka is similar to an eggplant lasagna although no noodles are used, only eggplant, cheese and ground beef.
The top layer is covered in a bechamel sauce, which is essential a savory custard made from milk, butter, flour and sometimes extra cheese.
It’s best served warm after baking to ensure a firm texture that won’t break apart easily when cut into.
Jamaican families all congregate for dinner when oxtail is being served. Served with broad beans and rice, the oxtail is seasoned, browned and then placed in a pressure cooker until the meat is tender enough to fall off the bone.
In general, Jamaican food errs on the spicy side and the oxtail dish is no different.
Recipes usually call for scotch bonnet chili peppers, which are about 40 times hotter than a jalapeño.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Considered an ancient staple due to its simplicity, the Armenian kalajosh is a lamb-yogurt dish. The lamb is cubed and sauteed with onions for a little over an hour with salt, pepper, paprika and red pepper.
When it’s through cooking, a warm yogurt and egg sauce is poured on top. It is then served on dried pieces of pita bread, which sops up the moisture from the bottom.
Navratan Korma translates as “nine jewels,” an association attributed to the Indian emperor, Akbar. Although it’s considered an easy dish to make, in Indian terms that still means it takes at least an hour and has three separate and somewhat complicated steps.
The vegetarian curry consists of nine vegetables or garnishes and about 11 different herbs and spices. It truly is a meal fit for a king.
If you own a pet guinea pig, you may not want to read on. Cuy chactado is fried guinea pig, a Peruvian specialty. Not for the faint of heart or queasy of stomach, the entire animal is cooked as is, with the head and feet still attached.
Peruvians have been eating these little furry critters for thousands of years, and the dish often appears during family get-togethers or special occasions.
In the 1950s, Jello-molded food was all the rage due to their neat and tidy appearance. Some countries have kept the tradition of food dishes encased in gelatin, such as the Ukrainian aspic.
Pork and chicken legs are boiled with vegetables much like they would be to make stock. However, the broth is separated and then poured on top of pieces of meat and vegetables in a mold or Pyrex dish.
After refrigerating overnight, the fat will have solidified leaving the dish encased in gelatin.