People from different parts of the world grow up in different cultures, various climates, and diverse ethnic backgrounds. Each country on this beautiful planet of ours has a defined way of life and culture that is unique and interesting, and food plays an essential role in each cultural dish.
Some national dishes are so prevalent in a culture that they become famous not just in that country but around the world. As a food lover and traveller in a globalized world, it is a great idea to try some of these popular and tasty dishes from the different cultures around us. So, let this list of tasty travel treats tempt your appetite and learn how to make them at home, or look for a restaurant in your own neighbourhood and order some take out!
The following are some of the best cultural dishes and international foods from around the world:
Argentina – Empanadas
Argentina is known for many things, including football and delicious empanadas. Empanadas are semi-circular fried or baked pastries that are filled with different types of yummy fillings and are a delectable snack in Argentina. These can be vegetarian or meat-based and generally, has meat, cheese, corn, and some vegetables stuffed inside them. The flavours and seasoning are influenced by the Italian and Spanish cultural influences that are present in Argentina, making it a tasty treat in this part of the world.
I most recently had Argentinean Empanadas in Playa del Carmen Mexico!
United Kingdom – Fish and Chips
The UK is very famous for its Fish and Chips shops that sell battered and fried fish with delicious potato fries. Fish and Chips is a favourite takeaway food, especially when eaten fresh while still crispy and crunchy with different accompaniments. Salt and vinegar are the best accompaniments, but this dish is also popular with mushy peas, pickles, slices of lemon, gravy, curry sauce, coleslaw, and tartar sauce.
Australia – Pavlovas
Though Vegemite on toast is one of the most commonly known cultural dishes in Australia, Pavlovas are a type of dessert that Australians love in their country. Pavlovas are a meringue-based dessert created in Australia in the 1920s. Also famous in New Zealand, the meringue is easy to make with very basic ingredients. Serve it topped with sweet whipped cream and different types of fruit for a light tasty treat.
Belgium – Belgian Waffles
Waffles are a dish that is popular throughout the western world as both a sweet and savoury dish, but Belgian waffles are particularly popular not just in Belgium but in Europe and North America. Batter or dough is cooked in a waffle iron in a round shape with square indents in it. Sweet Belgian waffles with chocolate sauce, cream, and fruits are very popular, and the Brussels Waffles and Liege Waffles are known all around the world.
Read about a food tour in Amsterdam where we discovered these little caramel-filled waffles called stroopwafel.
China – Chinese Fried Rice
China has a unique culture, and Chinese food is well known and famous all over the world. Chinese fried rice is cooked rice fried in oil in a wok with different condiments, vegetables, meat, and eggs. Cantonese style fried rice, Szechwan fried rice, and Fujian fried rice are variations of this dish, and fried rice is usually hot, spicy, and filled with spices, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and other Chinese condiments to suit your taste buds.
Another popular Chinese cultural dish is Dim Sum? Check out: Dim Sum Food Tour in Hong Kong
Crepes are a form of street food in France and are very thin French pancakes which are available with different toppings and spread. They can be sweet or savoury as the batter is made of using wheat flour, eggs, and milk. There are creperies all across France which sells different varieties Crepe Suzette, crepes with Nutella and cheese spread, crepes with fruits, crepes with yoghurt or lemon curd are all very popular around the world.
On my first trip to Paris enroute to our French Barge Cruise, my friend Lancia introduced me to her favourite creperie – La Droguerie du Marais for crepes with butter and cinnamon – simply delicious!
Moussaka is a hearty and tasty Greek dish that is now served all over the world. It is a type of layered dish which has a layer of savoury minced meat, a layer of thick custard or béchamel sauce, and a top layer of either Aubergine, eggplant, and potatoes. Sometimes the béchamel is replaced by a tomato sauce and is a very Mediterranean dish.
The United States of America – Apple Pie
There is a saying that reads “As American as Apple Pie” because although apple pie originated in Europe, today, it is a very American dish. Basic pie dough is made using flour, sugar, and butter, and the pie is filled with a sweet and delicious apple filling. The pastry of apple pie is usually crusty and crumbly, and the delightful apple filling is flavoured with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to make it tasty. Tarte Tatin, Dutch Apple Pie, and Mini Apple Pies are some of the varieties popular with the American people.
India – Tandoori Chicken and Curry
The country of India has many states, and each state has its own unique food culture. Tandoori smoked food from the northern part of the country is a very popular aspect of Indian cuisine and Tandoori chicken, a roasted chicken dish with spices being the most popular “tandoori”. Curries are everywhere throughout India and recipes consist of tomato, onion, and nut-based gravies such as Veg Kadai, Chicken Tikka Masala, vegetarian korma, Veg Jalfrezi for example. My absolute favourite curry is Curry Roganjosh (lamb) usually served over basmati rice.
Check out our article: A First-Time Traveller Guide to the Most Popular Indian Food in the World
Italy – Pasta and Pizza
When it comes to food culture, the Italians are famous for tasty and delicious food, and the pizzas and pasta from Italy are part of restaurant menus all over the world. Lasagna is layered pasta, macaroni and cheese is tasty comfort food, and all types of pizzas whether they are thin crust or thick crust are all delicious savoury dishes famous across the globe.
Calculated Traveller Lea had a great time at her pasta-making class in Rome Italy. Cooking classes are an awesome way to learn about the culture of a country that you are visiting.
Malaysia – Laksa
Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country with influences from India and China, and Laksa is a curry-based noodle dish that is truly Malaysian. Laksa is a coconut-based curry soup made with a curry paste of chilis, ginger, garlic, spices, and lemongrass. Laksa may include other ingredients such as coconut milk, chicken, vegetables, bean sprouts, different meats, shrimp, and even boiled eggs. An incredibly flavorful, tasty, and vibrant dish Laksa is a perfect representation of the Malaysian food culture.
Middle Eastern – Kebabs
Middle Eastern cuisine has several popular dishes famous across the world, but one of the famous cultural dishes from this region is Kebabs. Kebabs are barbeque style roasted meat and fish skewers that are marinated in different yoghurt-based sauces with oil and spices. Kebabs are popular with flatbreads and rice dishes and are also starters popular in restaurants all over the world. Chicken, goat, fish, and beef are popular types of nonvegetarian options in kebabs and are served in most middle eastern countries including Morroco, the Kingdom of Jordan, and Israel.
Mexico – Tacos
Mexican food is spicy, filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, meats, and accompaniments, and is fabulous street food and fast food choice. Mexican tacos perfectly represent the Mexican food culture. There are two types of tacos- fried tortilla taco and flatbread tortilla tacos. These tacos are filled with delicious fillings like refried beans, rice, lettuce, cheese, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and chipotle sauce, to name a few.
Tacos are another personal favourite (I have many) and I just loved learning about all the different taco styles when I took a taco food tour in Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
The above mentioned must-try world cultural dishes may not be traditional foods, signature dishes, or the best food from the country but they are absolute favourites for many people of all different cultures and are a delicious choice for people looking to try new cuisines of the world at home when you aren’t able to travel.