Some countries are consistently known as the world’s best for food: think Italy, France, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia, to name just a few. As a passionate foodie and traveller, I’m always happy to return to these culinary hot-spots to eat incredible food. However, on my latest adventure to visit every country in the world, I discovered seven more places that take delicious to a whole new level. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or just looking to break out of your foodie comfort zone, these 7 flavour-filled food spots are sure to deliver the gastronomic goods.
This big green country in Africa has it all worked out when it comes to food. Although Ethiopia is home to a large number of people living below the international poverty line, farming is still the main source of income for 80% of the population. And this is reflected in their cuisine. Beyond the endless number of colourful stews, curries, stir-fried meats, perfectly cooked fish dishes and beef tartare so fresh it melts in your mouth, a special mention must be given to the vegetarian food. It is that good.
Try shiro wat, a stew made from a blend of spices, onions, garlic, ginger and ground chickpea flour. It’s creamy, delicious and super healthy. Or order yetsom beyaynetu, a mixed combination platter of injera (the sponge-like bread used to scoop up the food) topped with a variety of vegan curries and vegetables available that day. To all the vegans and vegetarians out there, Ethiopia may be your ultimate foodie heaven, especially if you’re keen to progress past the safe comforts of South East Asian cuisine.
Clean flavours, fresh produce and bucket-loads of love are the main elements of this wonderful cuisine. Taiwanese people are mad about eating good food (and great coffee too), and the street food on offer here could easily be compared to Bangkok or Penang.
My favourite savoury snack here is a scallion pancake – a flaky paratha-like flatbread that is deep fried then loaded with a crispy egg, fresh cucumber, salad, basil and chilli sauce. For something sweet, look for fresh silken tofu, which is glassy-smooth with delicate nutty notes and a natural sweetness.
The capital city of Taipei has many fantastic restaurants, small eateries and hidden gems to find your fill, while the numerous night markets must be included on any food-fuelled itinerary. The rest of the country is very green, which makes for the perfect climate to grow all the fresh produce they use to create such mouth-watering food.
I’m not sure why Georgia doesn’t get the food bragging rights it warrants. Perhaps it’s due to its small size, or the fact that it borders with better-known culinary superstar Turkey. Either way, it’s about time to give Georgia the credit it deserves.
Its capital, Tbilisi, is slowly being recognised internationally as one of the most exciting cities to visit this year, with delicious food and wine and rejuvenating thermal baths. Head to the Svaneti region in the country’s north to hike across epic landscapes during the day and rest in the evenings at a warm homestay to experience that Georgian hospitality. Meanwhile, the eastern region of Kakheti produces some of the finest wine in Europe. Pair this with the creative use of walnuts, vegetables, lamb or chicken, mountain cheese, creamy butter, garlic and fresh herbs, and you’ll start to imagine what you’ve been missing out on all this time. Seriously, it’s time to book a ticket.
This nation on the Arabian Peninsula delivers everything I look for when choosing my next destination. Omani cuisine has been heavily influenced by the nation’s trading past, incorporating Persian, Indian, Mediterranean and African flavours to create flavour-filled food that will light up your soul.
Think of mezze, smoky dips, slow-cooked meats, cardamom-flavoured coffee, fresh dates and an endless array of delicious sweets, and you’ll get an idea of what to expect. Seriously, if Oman isn’t on your bucket list yet, put it there!
Sao Tome & Principe
Many people haven’t even heard of this tiny two-island nation located about a 1.5-hour flight off the West African coast. These islands are teeming with fruit trees, fresh vegetables and so many delicious species of fish, you can begin to imagine what wonderful dishes can be devoured here.
The cuisine is a fusion of Portuguese food with an African flair, and fish is the protein of choice. The signature dish is calulu: smoked dried fish in a tasty sauce made from lemony-tasting oca leaves, palm oil, okra, chilli peppers, watercress and fresh herbs. Most dishes are served with either rice, beans or cassava.
This island nation doesn’t receive near as many travellers as it should, given how beautiful and lush the nature is. But perhaps that’s all about to change, especially once word gets out that flights from Portugal are just a few hundred euros each way.
The happiest country in the world has so many reasons why you should visit. In addition to gorgeously green countryside, welcoming people and an extraordinary culture, I was pleasantly surprised to find that food is another reason why Bhutan should be on everybody’s travel bucket list.
Bordering with Tibet (China) and India, Bhutanese food cleverly blends all the flavours and spices these two countries are known for, and they do it well. Bhutanese people love spicy food and they can work wonders with vegetables. The most famous Bhutanese food is ema datshi, a stew made of onions, tomatoes, hot chillies and yak or cow’s milk cheese that is eaten with red rice. Another great dish is jasha maroo (spicy chicken). This stew uses finely diced chicken, chillies, onion, tomato, garlic, coriander leaves and ginger, served with a generous amount of broth and red rice.
There’s a theme here. I think it’s safe to say any country blessed enough to be an island will abound in tropical fruit, vegetables, spices and seafood. Sri Lanka is lucky to have traded with many surrounding countries to evolve a cuisine that is delicately spiced and equally colourful and satisfying.
The curries here are cleverly made using all the tropical fruits from the island. One of my favourites is jackfruit curry, a creamy coconut-flavoured dish that’s balanced with just the right spices. Both the pumpkin curry and beetroot curry are also worth a mention; they’re delicious and healthy and can be eaten with either rice or roti bread. Not only is Sri Lanka easy to travel around, it has a mix of beautiful beaches, lush tea plantations and colonial cities. Any trip you take through Sri Lanka will be a delicious one.
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About the author:
Food-loving world traveller. Coffee, street food and beaches make me smile. When I’m not travelling, you can find me planning the next trip, chilling at the beach or chowing down on the best eats in Melbourne. Currently on a big adventure to visit every country in the world and blogging at Very Hungry Nomads.