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A Taste of Travel: Signature Dishes from Around the World


(Warning: This blog will make you hungry. But there’s good news. It’s 100% calorie-free!)


Still have a hunger to travel despite the current restrictions? Here’s a delicious way to feed your appetite for exploring new places or revisiting favorite destinations. Follow your taste buds through our list of signature dishes from around the world. From exotic delicacies through comfort food, there’s sure to be more than a few culinary experiences you’ll want to add to your travel wish list.


Out of Africa

In Kenya, the unofficial national dish is Nyama Choma, which means barbecued meat in the Swahili language. Served by restaurants and street vendors alike, the meat is most often goat, but it can also be beef. Typically served with a side of ugali, a maize flour porridge, Nyama Choma is also often paired with a local beer.


For a snack in South Africa, you’ll want to try Biltong, a dried, cured meat similar to beef jerky. Biltong originated as a practical way to preserve meat in the warm climate. Today, it’s made with meats ranging from beef to kudu or ostrich, with ingredients like balsamic vinegar, ground chili peppers, lemon juice, garlic, and nutmeg.


While you’re likely to have sampled Couscous along your travels, make a point of ordering it when visiting Morocco, where some of the first couscous was served as far back as the 11th century. Moroccans serve couscous – small, steamed balls of crushed semolina – in a spicy stew or as a side dish with meat.


On to the Middle East

In the small country of Bahrain, rice is a staple, with many delicious variations to choose from. But the signature dish – sometimes called the national dish – is Machbous. Machbous can be made with chicken, lamb, or fish, and re-uses water that first cooked the fish or meat to make a spiced rice that blends all the flavors together.


In Israel, Falafel is the must-have street food. Typically served in a pita, falafels are made of mashed chickpeas and spices formed into balls or fritters and fried. Filling options for Israeli falafel range from chopped cucumbers and tomatoes to carrots, cabbage, and pickled vegetables, with the whole thing served with hummus and tahini sauce.


Related: Feed Your Culinary Curiosity: The Best Destinations for Foodies


What’s up down-under

As a melting pot of different cultures, Australia boasts a lengthy list of signature dishes. But, one thing is clear, Aussies love their meats! Opt for a traditional Meat Pie made of minced meat and gravy. With options as varied as beef, buffalo, camel, goat, chicken, or even kangaroo, these pies are served everywhere from sporting matches to high-end restaurants.


For an authentic taste of Fiji, try cassava cake, aka Tavioka Yaca. Made with grated cassava, a root vegetable featured throughout Fijian cuisine, the cake’s other key ingredients are coconut milk, brown sugar, and butter, with some recipes calling for the addition of raisins or banana. The sweet treat is traditionally served with tea or breakfast.


European leaders

You might think of waffles when you think of Belgium, but the favored signature dish is actually Moules-Frites or mussels and French fries. This Belgian classic steams small mussels in a broth made of white wine, shallots, garlic, and butter, and serves them with a side of crispy fries that are used to soak up the tasty broth once you’ve consumed the mussels.


When exploring Russia’s rich history, plan to indulge in Pelmeni, a dumpling dish sometimes called the heart of Russian cuisine. Filled with minced meat, such as regional staples of pork, lamb, venison, beef, or fish, and spices, pelmenis are wrapped in a thin unleavened dough and topped with sour cream, mayonnaise, or vinegar.


If you’re planning an adventure in Iceland, try a local favorite, Hákarl or fermented shark. Often described as an acquired taste, the delicacy is served in small cubes. With a strong smell and aftertaste, hákarl is often served with a shot of Brennivín, which is known as Iceland’s signature liquor.



One of Greece’s most famous dishes – Moussaka – is more traditional. It’s a casserole with layers of sautéed eggplant, meat (usually lamb), and vegetables, served warm and topped with a béchamel sauce. In recent years, vegetarian versions of this signature dish have grown in popularity.


Inspirations from Asia

No around-the-world list of signature dishes is complete without a few favorites from the Asian region. Sri Lanka’s national dish – Rice and Curry – is a staple in the island-nation. You’ll find the fluffy rice served with three or more fish, meat, or vegetable curries – and make a note, Sri Lankans like their curry spicy!


Pho is everywhere in Vietnam, served by street vendors and restaurants. The simple soup with rice noodles, herbs, and meat is big on flavor, and, while it’s served any time of day, it’s especially popular as a breakfast dish.


A soup is also the signature dish in Thailand. Tom Yam Goong – also known appropriately as Tom Yum – is a delicious combination of spicy and sour. Traditionally featuring prawns, there are many variations of Tom Yum, featuring chicken, pork, or mixed seafood. Often served as an appetizer, Tom Yam Goong makes a colorful and nutritious addition to any meal.


No matter where you go, the world is full of mouthwatering dishes and destinations to satisfy your culinary curiosity. When you’re ready to plan your next trip, the Cruise Dreams team is here to help prepare a custom travel menu especially for you, your culinary club, or your company’s incentive travel program. Call us at (877) 999-4533 or email us at travelplans@cruisedreams.com today.


Waves to you and smooth sailings ahead!



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