Local cuisine from around the world
Part of any trip abroad is sampling the local cuisine. However, without a little pre-trip preparation, this can sometimes feel like you have been entered as a contestent on “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here”. In an effort to assist, please find a sample of countries and their traditional dishes that you can expect when travelling there.
Chile has a wide variety of foods, including seafood, beef, fresh fruit, and vegetables. A traditional Chilean meal is pastel de choclo, a “pie” made with corn, vegetables, chicken, and beef. This dish is usually served with ensalada chilena (Chilean salad).
Rice, black beans, and manioc (a root vegetable like a potato) are the main foods for many Brazilians. The national dish is feijoada, a thick stew of black beans and pieces of pork and other meats. It is usually served with orange salad, white rice, farofa (ground manioc), and couve (kale), a dark green leafy vegetable that is diced and cooked until slightly crispy.
Egypt has a variety of national dishes. Ful (pronounced “fool,” bean paste), tahini (sesame paste), koushari (lentils, macaroni, rice, and chickpeas), aish baladi (a pita-like bread), kofta (spicy, minced lamb), and kebab (grilled lamb pieces) are the most popular.
The Peruvian cuisine largely consists of spicy dishes that originated as a blend of Spanish and indigenous foods. Such dishes are often referred to as Criolla, or Creole. Aji (chili) is the most popular spice in Peru and is used in a variety of ways to give food extra flavor.
Aside from spices, however, potatoes, rice, beans, fish, and various grains are essential staples (foods eaten nearly everyday) in the Peruvian diet.
Morocco, unlike most other African countries, produces all the food it needs to feed its people. Its many home-grown fruits and vegetables include oranges, melons, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and potatoes. Five more native products that are especially important in Moroccan cooking are lemons, olives, figs, dates, and almonds. Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in fish and seafood. Beef is not plentiful, so meals are usually built around lamb or poultry.
Traditional Swedish home cooking (called husmanskost) is simple in comparison with other European cuisines, but it is anything but ordinary. Husmanskost, once referring to tasteless porridge and other gruel, has come to represent savory stews, roasts, and various seafood.
The ultimate in husmanskost is the Swedish smörgåsbord (SMUR-gawssboord), which is a number of small hot and cold dishes served buffet-style. The literal meaning of the word is “bread and butter table.” The term has become world famous, representing a collection of various foods, presented all at once.
The traditional Swedish smörgåsbord commonly includes herring (fish); smoked eel; roast beef; jellied fish; boiled potatoes; lingonsylt (LING-onnseelt; lingonberry jam); Janssons frestelse (YAHN-sons FREH-stehl-seh; “Jansson’s temptation”), a layered potato dish containing onions and cream, topped with anchovies (fish); and köttbulla (CHURT-boolar; Swedish meatballs), which have also won worldwide acclaim. It is easy to see why the literal meaning of smörgåsbord, “bread and butter table,” does the feast little justice.
Rice is the main dietary staple of Thailand. Thais eat two kinds of rice: the standard white kind and glutinous, or sticky, rice. Sticky rice rolled into a ball is the main rice eaten in northeastern Thailand. It is also used in desserts throughout the country. Rice is eaten at almost every meal and also made into flour used in noodles, dumplings, and desserts. Most main dishes use beef, chicken, pork, or seafood, but the Thais also eat vegetarian dishes.
Plain rice (com trang) is at the center of the Vietnamese diet. Steamed rice is part of almost every meal. The Vietnamese prefer long-grain white rice, as opposed to the short-grain rice more common in Chinese cooking.
Rice is also transformed into other common ingredients such as rice wine, rice vinegar, rice noodles, and rice paper wrappers for spring rolls.
Rice is also used to make noodles. There are four main types of rice noodles used in Vietnamese cooking. Banh pho are the wide white noodles used in the quintessential Vietnamese soup, pho. Bun noodles (also called rice vermicelli) look like long white strings when cooked. Banh hoi are a thinner version of bun noodles. In addition, there are dried glass, or cellophane, noodles (mien or bun tao) made from mung bean starch.
Don’t forget your holiday insurance!
If you are taking a trip in the near future, make sure you buy travel insurance before you go. Holidaysafe.co.uk travel insurance offers cover for a family for 7 days in Europe from just £13.70* and Worldwide from just £28.76^. You can get a quote and instant cover by going online to Holidaysafe.
*Includes Insurance Premium Tax is based on 2 adults aged under 35 and 2 children aged under 17 taking out a ‘standard’ single trip travel insurance policy for 7 days in Europe.
Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (December 2008) and are subject to change.
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