Introducing you to the diverse cuisines unique to the 6 continents I’ve set foot on. I have personally devoured all of these specialties, enjoying them all greatly . . . except for one. I will leave it up to you to figure out the only one I couldn’t stomach.
A traditional Egyptian meal that consists of a strange combination of macaroni, spaghetti, rice, black lentils, chick peas, garlic sauce and a spicy tomato chili sauce, all topped with fried onions. It’s sold by street vendors and in restaurants. The combination of lentils, pasta and rice make this dish a vegetarian and high protein meal!
The beverage choice for Egyptian pharaohs. Hibiscus tea was used to help keep them cool in their desert environment. Today, the tea is still commonly used to help maintain healthy body temperatures. In can be served cold or hot and is said to lower blood pressure as effectively as some standard hypertension drugs.
A treat based on a mixture of starch and sugar and served in cubes, dusted with sugar. The most traditional and best known flavour of Turkish Delight is rosewater, which is found throughout the country and across the world. However, there is a far greater variety to choose from, including pistachio, lemon, chopped date, mint and cinnamon. Aside from these flavours, look closely and see if you can find a very odd but funny flavour . . .
This is a strong, clear, hard alcoholic drink, similar to Greek ouzo. Most people drink it straight by adding cold water and ice, which gives it a chalky white look and why people also refer to it as lion’s milk.
So far I’ve been narrowing it down to one dish and one drink native to a particular country. However, I could live off Greek food for the rest of my life and couldn’t narrow it down to just one food. Here are the foods that I ate every day during my travels in Greece.
Flaky phyllo sheets layered with a savory spinach and feta cheese filling. If you’re a spinach and feta lover like me, then this is your favourite, too.
Side note: I put an insane amount of tzatziki sauce on everything I ate in Greece. This cool, creamy yogurt dip made with cucumber and mint is delicious. If it was served with olives – even better.
Dolmades are delicate parcels made from grape leaves (also known as vine leaves) stuffed with long-grain rice, toasted pine nuts, fresh herbs and seasonings.
Salad of juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumber, sliced red onion, green pepper, feta cheese and plump kalamata olives. The feta is literally one giant block resting on top. I would think to myself, “Nah, I can’t eat that all,” and sure enough, gone every time.
The classic Greek drink Ouzo is made from a precise combination of pressed grapes, herbs and berries with licorice, mint, fennel and hazelnut. When mixing Ouzo with water it will turn whitish and opaque. Cloud in a glass, as I like to call it.
4. South America
“Cuy,” or Guinea Pig
While difficult to accept for people in other countries who regard guinea pigs as pets, (such as me thinking of our childhood guinea pig friends Cookie and Penny), the cuy is a staple of Andean cuisine. It was even served with a helmet fashioned out of a tomato and fennel.
Used to create coca tea, a very common herbal drink in Peru. The look and taste is similar to green tea, slightly bitter with a hint of sweetness. Another way to consume coca leaves is by chewing. They are used to boost energy, take away headaches and fatigue, and commonly used to prevent the symptoms of altitude sickness. I was greeted at my hotel in Cusco with a hot cup of coca tea and chewed on the leaves during my Inca Trail hike.
A Peruvian cocktail containing pisco liquor (distilled from grapes grown in South America), lemon or lime juice, egg whites, and syrup. You drink them straight up! They are very strong and pretty sour, but refreshing.
5. North America
Canada produces 80% of the world’s pure maple syrup, 91% of which is produced in Quebec. It is a natural product free of any colouring or additives, made from the sap of the maple sugar tree. It is extremely worthwhile to purchase real maple syrup for a little extra over fake maple syrup such as the Aunt Jemima brand, health wise and also taste wise.
Mott’s Clamato Juice, the essential ingredient in a Caesar, can only be found in Canada. Along with Clamato juice, the Caesar has vodka and salt and pepper, with the glass rimmed with celery salt. With a few notable exceptions like Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, nowhere else in the world can you order a Caesar and have the bartender know what you are talking about.
As a reward for our skydive, my boyfriend and I ate lunch at the very famous Fergburger in Queenstown! It was absolutely the most mouthwatering burger I have ever tasted! Since it was so huge, I went simple on the toppings. My boyfriend loves his burgers, and he ordered the “Big Al.” His was topped with two patties of New Zealand beef, two eggs, bacon strips, beets, lettuce, tomato, onion, and aioli. When our burgers were ready he said, “Congratulations, you have a Big Al!” The thing was absolutely massive. But he ate it all and loved every second of it.
Lemon & Paeroa (L&P)
Lemon & Paeroa, also known as L&P, is a sweet drink manufactured and only found in New Zealand. It’s made by combining lemon juice with carbonated mineral water from the town of Paeroa, situated in the North island and known for its mineral springs. Some say L&P is a drink from NZ that tastes of good lemonish stuff. Others say it’s a drink from NZ that tastes of lemonish good stuff. Debate rages on.
Useful tips I’ve learned that I would like to impart upon you for your future travels:
- Avoid buffets. For some reason, every buffet I ate from on my travels, either me or one of my travel mates would get food poisoning without fail. Maybe it has something to do with the food touching and the way the servers handle the food, I’m not sure, but it is worth ordering from the menu instead.
- Bring animal crackers. Snacks such as these can be really handy for long bus or train rides, and also in environments where you are uncertain of the food quality, such as the overnight train in Egypt for example.
- Stay hydrated. This is crucial in keeping energy levels up and combating sickness, such as altitude sickness in Peru. I drank 3 litres of water daily while in Peru, which was the recommendation.
- Be daring. Would you go to Paris without trying French pastries? Germany and not taste Wiener schnitzel? You have to be adventurous and try something different and unique to the culture you’re in! Yes, the guinea pig was the cuisine that I couldn’t order, but I still tried a teeny piece! Otherwise, you’re missing out on an exciting opportunity to live like a local in a very unique country! Who wouldn’t want that?