11 Mouthwatering Meals You’ll Never Find In The U.S.
Sevilla is one of those little towns in Spain that belongs on a postcard; mosaic tiled streets, lights strung across the narrow pathways between houses, and the kind of schedule that allows for late afternoon siestas and dinner at midnight.
When I ventured into this beautiful city late one afternoon, I came during the quiet time to find everything shuttered closed, and made my way to my hostel to freshen up for a night out.
When I stepped outside the door, I was just in time to see the city come back to life. People of every age were gathered in the squares, dancers stomping out the sevillanas, and the sound of sweet music filled the air. But more than just sights and sounds, there were such delicious scents on the air…sweet, savory, tart, spicy…and it was absolutely mouthwatering.
After a dinner of fresh fish, roasted potatoes, and sangria, I realized that even though I had all of the same ingredients in my kitchen back on American soil, the food here was absolutely one of a kind. And with that knowledge, I created a personal challenge to taste all the delicacies around the world that wouldn’t be the same at home.
Think you’re ready to take on my challenge as well?
Here are ten of my international gastronomic must-haves that will leave your taste buds begging for more!
Limoncello reminds me of late nights on the side streets of Rome, sitting around an old wooden table inside a Mom and Pop pasta shop with two of my best friends from my childhood. We shared jokes with Julio, the restaurateur, and a few rounds of Limoncello, a sweet and tart lemon zest liquor from the south of Italy, after an excellent dinner. Though it’s popularity is picking up in the States in cocktails and desserts, it really deserves an authentic experience a la Italia.
2. Black pudding
No one is saying that the ingredients of black pudding—pork, dried pig’s blood, suet—isn’t a little off-putting. But the blood sausage is the defining delicacy of the British Isles, and widely eaten all over Europe. Take it for breakfast like the Scots, with fried bread and baked beans, or boiled with malt vinegar right out of it’s takeout paper. Either way, it’s definitely something you want to cross off your culinary bucket list.
3. Banana Leaf Rice
A favorite dish from South India, the dish’s popularity has grown to surrounding countries like Malaysia and Singapore as well—and for good reason. This traditionally vegetarian meal doesn’t actually include eating the banana leaf (instead it acts as a disposable plate) but the sweet, spicy, and sour assortment of vegetables, sauces, and white rice that’s served on it packs a delicious punch. An extra perk? You get to eat this dish with your fingers. Just make sure you remember to fold the leaf inward post-meal; it’s how you show your thanks to the chef.
Kabsa is actually a whole family of yummy rice dishes rather than just one incredible meal from Saudi Arabia, so you’ve got the opportunity to taste all the different variations before picking a favorite. The very basics include long grain rice, meat, vegetables, and spices, but the possibilities after that are endless. Chicken, lamb, beef, fish, onions, pine nuts, tomatoes, pepper, cloves, saffron…I could go on, but it’s making me too hungry! Better for you to just get out there and have a bite of your own.
Just like the Kabsa, the tagine is more a variety of dishes than one particular meal. In fact, tangine isn’t just the name of the dish, but the piece of pottery the food is cooked in as well. This North African Berber dish is one of those backyard, chill-out experiences—it’s best when cooked over hot coals—but it’s popularity has exploded and you can find it not just in the markets of Morocco but also in the kitchen over the stove. The secret to these savory stews is the shape of the pot, which allows all the moisture to stay in the food rather than escaping, and it makes the meat and veggies unbelievably tender. My favorite variation is full of lamb and mango, it’s equal parts sweet and savory!
Whenever someone tells me they have traveled to Portugal, my first question is never about architecture, beaches, or the open air markets…it’s always whether or not that person had a chance to get one of my favorite desserts: malasadas. In Portugal, these sugar coated doughnuts are eaten with breakfast, but I think they’re just a tad too sweet for that. New variations of the fried dough balls include fillings of custard, chocolate or fruit, but I prefer the original sugar-dusted and an afternoon espresso.
7. Bo Luc Lac
Bo Luc Lac, or Vietnamese Shaking Beef, is a French-inspired dish of peppers, cubed beef, cucumbers, tomatoes and onion sauteed in soy sauce, and it’s what hungry stomachs dream of. I like it best served with extra dipping sauce—lime juice, salt and black pepper—and a side of pomme frites. With the cool cucumbers and tomatoes and the warm beef and onions, it’s a shock to the taste buds, just the way I like it.
Coxinhas are a Brazilian delicacy and it’s a veritable fact that these chicken croquettes are stuff of legend. The story goes that a long forgotten prince living in seclusion would only eat chicken thighs, and a clever chef created the coxinha one day when there wasn’t enough chicken to serve a whole meal. The rest, they say, is history, but at least we still have the recipe for this tasty snack. Start with chopped chicken thigh meat, load it with spices, scallions, and tomatoes, coat it in a bread crumb batter, and then deep fry. Enjoy!
This Tunisian dish is one for lovers of the poached egg; it’s a couple of eggs served with chili peppers, tomatoes, onions and varied spices like cumin, paprika and garlic. Variations of the dish also include artichoke hearts, potatoes in beans, and when it’s served in a traditional cast iron pan, it comes out still warm from the stove (which is my favorite way to eat it). It’s a popular breakfast meal because of the eggs, but in Israel they’ve taken to eating it for dinner, along with bread to get all of the leftover savory sauce. It’s too good not to dip!
Definitely the most famous delicacy on this list (if not, it’s only second to blood pudding), it’s still nevertheless one that might wrinkle a few noses—mine included. I can only say that this is one of those times you should take a leap of faith, because the way the French saute their snails is akin to a culinary miracle. Salty, buttery goodness is the only way to describe this dish, and it’s one you must-try at least once. Besides, the French are among the best in the world, why wouldn’t you trust them?
This pastry doesn’t actually have it’s roots in Czech tradition (the sweet bread rolls popped up around Prague from Hungary about ten years ago) but that doesn’t make the sugar sweet dessert any less of a must-have. Found in stalls all around Prague’s Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, the baked dough can come with Nutella or jam inside if you’re feeling like adding a bit extra, but it’s perfectly delicious coming off the rolling iron piping hot and coated in butter and cinnamon.
Did I leave off one of your favorite meals? Share it (and a picture!) in the comments—I love trying new things!