Travel To Eat And Eat To Travel
Food and travel goes hand in hand. One cannot help getting whipped away to somewhere in Spain when eyeing or getting a whiff of paellas, for example. The association between food and travelling is strong. The foods we eat at different places around the world have potential to shape and define our journeys and our memories of them.
Being food enthusiasts and having traipsed around the world to over 50 countries and 150 cities, it will be too easy for the lean team to just blog about some national dishes we have enjoyed over the years or pick some obscure or unusual eats for the sake of being different.
It requires more than Casu Marzu (maggots in cheese now illegal from Sardinia) type “wow” factor to make it memorable. Memorable meals will require good company, surroundings and ambience, however, memorable eats for us is strong association with the place of origin, relatively consistent in quality throughout the country, taste very good and gives us yearnings to eat it again and again without tiring of it.
It is subjective naturally, but this is our take on 10 memorable eats from 10 different countries ranging from Michelin-starred meals to off the beaten track hole-in-a-wall encounters. Photographs courtesy of the lean team from their very own personal albums.
This savoury sandwich is a celebratory dish from Swedish. It is a layered sandwich with egg and mayonnaise as the base filling plus different choices of add-ons for both the filling and topping. Ingredients can be anything you like from cold cuts and liver pate to seafood like prawns, crayfish and smoked salmon with the token vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes and lemon for garnishing. It is extremely sturdy and filling but you cannot help wanting to eat it again when passing the array of this pretty dish in supermarket counters.
Arancini, Sicily, Italy
They are large deep-fried breaded rice balls with a variety of fillings of your choice. The most common stuffing is ragu and mozzarella. Other variations include Norma (typical Sicilian aubergine sauce), pistachio, various cheeses and béchamel sauce. It is a perfect snack to satiate the taste buds and hunger pangs in between meals.
Quenelles de brochet, Lyon, France
These are quenelles made from pike mixed with a thick white sauce and force through a sieve before shaping and poaching. It is served with crayfish or cream sauce and a minute under the grill to brown it. It is elegantly heavenly and so very tasty that it is worth a special trip for it.
Bunny Chow, Durban, South Africa
Bunny, as in hollowed out bread in Durban speak. The bunny is filled with various types of curry, originated from the need to carry lunches into the plantation fields. Although the original bunny chow was vegetarian, it is now more commonly filled with mutton/lamb or chicken curry. The quality of the bunny chow is very dependent on the quality of the curry, naturally. The quarter mutton bunny chow is so good and such a comfort food that it reigns superior over a hamburger anytime, when in the Kwazulu Natal area.
Kottu Roti, Sri Lanka
Kottu means chopped bread and is a Tamil dish. In this instance, paratha (layers of cooked dough) bread is chopped up and fried together with meat (beef or chicken), eggs, vegetables (carrots, leeks & cabbage), spices and spiced sauce. The end product is a plate of chopped up bits that you eat like fried rice, some wetter than others but a true delight for the taste buds and is very satisfying…not to forget that you can get it for less than £2!
Beef Rendang, Indonesia
This is a spicy meat dish, always made with beef. Many refer to it as curry if they don’t know better as it is like most curry utilising many and similar spices. Rendang is a beef stew that is spicy, rich and melts in your mouth tender. Unlike curries, it is very dark brown in colour and relatively dry with minimal sauce. It iis usually served with steam or glutinous rice and sides of vegetables. This dish is unctuous, delicious and one cannot help but order it with huge expectations when seen on a menu, even when not in Indonesia.
Hainanese Chicken Rice, Singapore
Considered one of the national dishes of Singapore. A dish of succulent steamed white chicken served cut up into pieces with vinegarish chilli sauce and fragrant garlic, ginger and chicken broth rice. It is so good you can eat it everyday!
This roasted suckling pig dish is popular in many regions of the world including Portugal, Spain, Cuba & Puerto Rico, but it is exceptionally prevalent and a popular national dish of the Phillippines. The entire seasoned pig is skewered and roasted over charcoal rotisserie style. Hours of roasting and basting produce crispy skin with succulent flesh. Portions are served with skin and can be eaten with rice or as filling for bread. This is carnivore heaven!
Miso Black Cod, California, USA
Miso Black Cod can be found on menus all over the world but is a signature dish first created by chef Nobu Matsuhisa at his first Nobu restaurant in Beverly Hills. Black cod or sable fish has taste and consistency like no other deep-sea fish common in the North Pacific Ocean. It is marinated in miso, mirin, sake and sugar and pan-fried. The salty sweet glaze together with the silky buttery textured fish can only be described as a “super combo”. It is a sublime and simple dish and actually very easy to duplicate yourself, if you can get your hands on some black cod.
Ceviche is a traditional dish widely eaten in Peru. The key difference from other e.g. Mexican ceviche is the lack of tomatoes and coriander. It can be argued that Peruvian ceviche is made from only 5 ingredients; seabass, salt, lime juice, onions, and Amarillo chillies notably known as tiger’s milk. Half-cooked in the fish juice and citric marinade, the dish is traditionally served at room temperature with chunks of corn on cob and potato slices. This dish is delicate with strong flavours and the usual starter portions leave you wanting much, much more!