France and Italy get all the glory, but there’s so much more global cuisine to explore. Here are 5 unexpected destinations for culinary travel.
Perched at the crossroads between Italy, central Europe and the former Ottoman Empire, Croatiais a country with a complicated history – and a diverse culinary scene to match. Inland, you’ll find that central European fare dominates, with a focus on meats, cheeses, noodles, beer and fruit spirits. Visit Istria, a Croatian-Italian bilingual region that borders Italy and Slovenia, for a strong local food scene that makes the most of the region’s excellent products: look for seafood, olive oil, mushrooms, truffles and prosciutto, washed down with wine and spirits.
Yes, they’ve got jerk chicken, Appleton Estates rum and Red Stripe beer, plus all the tropical fruit you can eat, but there’s so much more to explore in this Caribbean nation’s food scene, often featuring ingredients difficult to find elsewhere. For breakfast, try ackee – Jamaica’s national fruit – fried up with codfish for a surprisingly egg-like dish. Broaden your carnivorous horizons by sampling stewed goat or oxtail, perhaps served with some steamed callaloo, a Jamaican leafy green. And wash it all down with a ginger beer or a glass of sorrel, the local name for sweetened, often ginger-flavoured, bright-pink hibiscus tea.
Like nearby England, Germany has a reputation for stodgy food that isn’t really warranted. That said, you might want to plan for some hikes and bike rides to burn off the plentiful and flavourful strudels, pretzels, breads, sausages, noodles, potatoes, cakes and beer, though nowadays, there’s more than just sauerkraut to lighten things up: vegetarian and vegan options are showing up on menus across the country. Locavores will appreciate the country’s dedication to local food; visit during asparagus season and you’ll find special menus at many restaurants dedicated to the much-adored vegetable in both its green and white forms.
When a country’s children name “chef” as one of their primary “when I grow up” occupations, you know it takes food seriously. Peru’s cuisine begins with the quality of its ingredients: abundant seafood, meats and produce are found here, including many so-called superfoods that the world has only recently taken notice of, such as quinoa, amaranth, lucuma and maca. Combine this with its multicultural population – indigenous peoples plus immigrant Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and more – and you get a thriving local food scene with regional variations that is just waiting to be explored by visitors.
We know Switzerland mostly for its chocolate and cheese, each of which is enough reason to visit. On the sweet side, you can take the chocolate train, tour the Lindt factory, even get a chocolate spa treatment; besides the classic fondue, dairy lovers will want to head to the northeastern Appenzeller region to try the spicy local cheese made from grass-fed raw milk. Other popular local dishes include bircher muesli, the tasty and healthy breakfast dish found everywhere on breakfast buffets; and Zuri-Geschnetzeltes, a Zürich-style minced meat dish served with gravy and often alongside rösti, the hearty Swiss potato pancakes. Also sample the plentiful cakes and tortes topped with seasonal fruits such as rhubarb, red currants, raspberries and plums.