Even if we don’t always remember the history behind the Colosseum, the significance of the Great Pyramids’ configuration, or who built Machu Picchu after returning home from a trip, we can almost always remember what we ate while we were there.
Of course, food memories can range from pleasurable to uncomfortable or even mediocre. Judgments aside, though, most of us travelers can agree that the times when we eat during a trip are most often also the times when we feel the most engaged. With all five senses stimulated, we not only see, hear, smell, or even touch a certain place — we taste it, too.
Globalization has made sampling delicacies from around the world fairly easy. Most of us don’t have to live in the Middle East to sample delicious falafel, or travel to China for near perfect jiaozi. But our list isn’t solely about individual dishes; it’s about the experience of eating in an authentic context. It’s about actually stepping foot in the wood-fired pizza ovens in Naples, the steaming noodle shops of Tokyo, and the bustling cevicherias of Lima. You may be able to recreate a crêpe, but you (sadly) will have a difficult time recreating the crepêrie that wafts saccharine batter aromas from a Parisian street corner.
None of these dishes could have been created in a vacuum. They are most often the sum of geography, traditions, necessities, and personal tastes of a given culture. This considered, many of the dishes on our list arguably have multiple homes across several borders, yet we’ve chosen to bring you the locations where we believe you can find them in some of their purest forms.
In the following five slideshows, we’ve rounded up 150 different foods that enhance the experience of a given place. Not only do these foods complement a trip, some might argue (as we do) that given the proper address, they’re worth the trip themselves.
Admittedly, several of our recommendations might be more accessible to most people’s palates, while others might be more of an acquired taste. While it’s ultimately up to you to decide what’s on your eating itinerary for your next trip, consider our recommendations based upon popularity and critical review. We’ve segmented the five geographical areas into five pages and five slideshows:
Did we forget an essential dish in one of your favorite travel destinations? Let us know by leaving a comment.
To see our complete list of 150 foods worth traveling for, go to the next page!
Caroline Brown, Emily Kolars, Emily Rothkrug, and Meredith Whitman contributed research and reporting to this article.