In the age of explorers, we might have gone looking for gold or land, but we came back with some really good recipes.
However, it’s been a while since those days, and if you were to ask a native now what they eat, you can bet it’s miles from that recipe you have in a “Foods from Around the World” cookbook written by a celebrity chef from the next city over. We constantly get told “You’ve never tasted real [insert country here] food”. Sometimes the only solution is to experience it yourself right at the source.
Plus, as good at trade as we are – or were, before lockdown – there are simply too many treasures kept to the local area, undiscovered by the rest of the world. And that seems like a travesty.
So, if you’re the type of holiday goer that is looking forward mostly to how you get to ditch your diet for the foreseeable future, take a look at our top picks for holiday destinations that will have you going home with some authentic recipes to try.
There is a rumour in the western world that simply won’t die. For all the Japanese sushi and noodle spots all over any given city, there is no real wasabi. What you’re actually eating is rumoured to be horseradish with green food colouring – and even then, that packs a punch.
If you want some decent sushi or ramen, you’d need to head to Tokyo: the capital of street food. The brilliance of this is that what we figure is high cuisine is seen as street food in Tokyo. Affordable prices for all the sushi you could ask for, and a generally healthier lifestyle to boot, so you’d probably come back having lost a few pounds.
Try some monjayaki, a sort of savoury version of the pancake, with loads of different ingredients pan-fried in batter, or explore the various fish that are not so much accepted in the west, like eel, octopus and so forth. Ask for some unaju for some basted freshwater eel over rice. Or if you’re not feeling so adventurous, try some yakitori chicken skewers or ramen the way it was meant to be made, as the pride and joy of Tokyo.
Careful everything you try agrees with you though. Just a touch of wasabi, remember! If you’re looking for travel insurance for holidays, click here to take a look at StaySure.
Sometimes the old favourites cannot be beaten though, and that’s when you should head to Florence. Even the worst pizza you’ve ever eaten was probably better than most meals in your lifetime, so imagine having an Italian making them for you.
Italian cuisine is often a lot simpler than we outsiders make it. Sometimes the classics don’t need tampering with, and that’s how you end up with “hunter-style” cacciatora, which is chicken thighs baked in tomato sauce. Or head to one of the little restaurants down an alley in Florence for some arancini, a dish made up of risotto rice, cheese and sauce formed into balls and coated in breadcrumbs.
If you’ve watched Ratatouille and decided you’d like a rat to cook all your meals from now on, we don’t blame you. The movie only scraped the surface of what “peasant dishes” are served in the cobbled streets of Paris.
But what people know of the capital of France is their high-end restaurants and their pastries. The best sweet spot is the street food merchants parked around the tourist traps. They offer some great cuisine, like crêpes, galettes, gaufres, and more, as a great desert at the end of your eating experience.