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Food and Drink

Best Places for Food Tourism when travelling

Eating Italian food.

Some locally grown food in Sicily.

I think that I can never ever get bored of travelling because apart from seeing new places, meeting new people and learning about different cultures, I simply love the foods I get to try from around the world. Every country I find, has its unique dishes, some delicious and others which I sometimes wish I had not tried. Also to go with the food, the wines and local beverages. To focus on my favourite food experiences for now though, these are my favourite countries for food tourism.

Seoul, Korea

Spending a year living in the area of Gangnam in Seoul, South Korea, teaching English as a foreign language to business people 1-to-1, gave me the chance to really gain an appreciation for Korean food. Lots of spices, fresh vegetables and always with kimchi (also sometimes written as kimchee) – a type of fermented cabbage. You must make sure also to try dak galbi, bulgogi, bibimpap, kimchi jigas (and the numerous very fresh and delicious soups they make in just about every restaurant. Expect to find garlic in most dishes and soups and ingredients such as ginger.

Food is important to all people and all cultures, but food is really much more than this to Korean people, a little like drinking is to British and Irish cultures. Koreans have a passion for food which equals that of the Italians and they also in fact have a heavy drinking culture. Drinks such as baekseju (a type of rice wine) and a beer such as cass beer tend to be very popular in the local restaurants.

There are many differences in how food is represented in tourism spaces in a city such as Seoul. Small food stalls and small and medium sized eateries and restaurants and extremely popular. Literally every few metres there seem to be somewhere to eat and food is a key of socialising in Korean culture. Rather than meet up in a bar or pub, most people tend to meet for food and often then head to what is known as a Norebang (a singing room). And yes, you can order food at the Norebang. If you love to try new foods and consider food tourism as something important when you travel, definitely consider Korea as an option.

Eating dak galbi in Gangnam.

The food is often cooked at the table, as you can see in the image above.

Sicily

All parts of Italy are excellent for food fanatics and literally every town and village has its own speciality. Italia is a country which you could travel through for a month and experience some new food or dish every day. Even traditional and popular Italian foods such as pizza can vary greatly according to the region with the pizza thick and crusty in some areas and thin with the focus on the topping in a place such as in northern Italy. In Viterbo, for example, north of Rome, there is a place where they make pizza so thin that they have to lay it on top of two dishes side by side and there is a lot of topping, such as ham and cheese. In a city further south, such as in Napoli, you must also try the pizza which tends typically to be of medium thinness and comes with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes.

Valeria eating in Catania

I particularly like the food in the Etna region and this is partly because of the way in which the very fertile volcanic soil, gives the foods a very rich and great taste, particularly in the fruits and also the wines.

Whilst in Sicily make sure to try some of my favourites. Of course try the fresh fish (and which are often cooked without the need for lots of sauces and spices because they want to let you taste the actual fish) but also make sure to try these foods.

Arancini – a local take-away style food you find in most bars and which can be best described as the Sicilian equivalent to a Cornish pasty to Cornwall. Arancini is a deep fried rice ball which includes a little sauce, cheese and comes in breadcrumbs.

Sicilian Cannoli – a pastry in the shape of a tube which comes with ricotta cream inside of it and with some sugar sprinkled on top.

Couscous – If you look on a world map you will note how close Sicily is geographically to Africa. Africa has influenced Sicily a lot over the years and none so more than in food such as with the popularity of couscous in the local cooking. More traditional known as a food popular in Morocco, Egypt and other Northern African countries, couscous has been popular for decades in Sicily and is still a popular dish in many restaurants and homes. Sicilian couscous in particular is made with fish and it is typical of Trapani, on the west furthest corner of Sicily.

More about Italian foods and a Great Show

NYC

By listing New York City in a post about food tourism, you might at first be surprised. It is not so much about the American foods but the quite amazing diverse restaurants and opportunities to sample world cuisine. Italian, Malyasian, Indian, Cuban, Thai and cuisines from all over the world can be experienced in NYC and to a very high standard. With 1st and 2nd generation immigrants from many nationalities in the Big Apple, it means the chance to experience foods which are often cooked similar to in their home countries. Try an Italian restaurant outside of Italy and normally you will genuinely struggle to find anywhere which matches the exact style and quality you would expect in Italy. NYC though is the only place we (my Sicilian wife and I) have ever experienced true Sicilian foods outside of Sicily (foods you cannot even find on mainland Italy).

I am not sure if many people can choose one restaurant as being their favourite in the world? (If you have one I would love to know in the comments section). My favourite restaurants worldwide though is La Caridad which is on Broadway and serves Cuban Chinese food. Cheap and cheerful but simply great quality and it is what it is. I highly recommend a visit to La Caridad at 2199 Broadway. Checking other people’s reviews on their Google Plus page it seems that some people adore the place and others do not. Give it a try and let me know what you think!Try my favourite dish which is the beef stew!

La Caridad

Thailand

I kind of love the Italian style of cooking in that a lot of the dishes are designed around simplicity i.e. few ingredients so that you can taste the very food you are trying to eat. If you are eating fish then you include a dash of extra virgin olive oil and a little garlic and a few herbs but for the most part, you will certainly be able to taste and enjoy the fish. Thai food is cooked very differently to European foods such as Italian. Expect a lot of spices including with chilli; an ingredient which is used heavily in the local cooking. This can mean that the taste is amazing but that you are not hardly tasting the raw foods themselves but a concocted taste (which itself certainly can be very good though).

I found Thai food to be an excellent compromise between the Italian basic style of cooking and the heavily spiced Indian way of cooking. I have to admit though that some Thai foods also can be very spicy but overall I found the choice to be excellent and a delight to try. There are some wonderful rice and fish dishes and do make sure to try a local Thai curry at least once!

Food in Bangkok.

You might be slightly irritated that I have not included your own country. What about Brazilian, Indian, Japanese, Spanish, French and Chinese food you might be asking? That is the beauty of food tourism in that there are always new foods that you and I have yet to taste in the native country of that particular food. These countries listed above are all certainly on my list! When I try a new food, I want to try it in its country of origin. The time I try Brazilian food will be when I travel to Brazil and not in a Brazilian restaurant in London.

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