One of the best thing about travelling is that you are (usually) not under time pressure. Except on the days when you have to catch a plane/train/bus, there are no alarm clocks and the whole structure of the days is much different than at home. Also for Lu – we try to maintain some of his routines, but we don´t force anything really. If he wants to stay up late, we let him – after all, he has holidays also! Why not have fun and enjoy :). And a big part of that is also eating well! And eating in peace. And since I´m travelling around with two hungry men I realize even more how important it is to eat something good :). Sometimes at home we hurry and don´t eat proper, although we try and do our best. But on our travels we enjoy so much to eat as much yummy things that we can! Over the years we can say we have a couple of our favourite dishes or foods. It´s the food we are looking forward to eat again once we know we are flying to that part of the world and / or the food we used to eat often while we were there and it stayed in our memories. So, here are our TOP 20 from all over the world! (in random order):
1 MASALA DOSA, south India: My favourite Indian dish by far! It´s like a huge crispy pancake, made from rice, lentils, potatoes, curry leaves and other herbs and served with different chutneys and sambar – I usually had it for breakfast. Unfortunately the restaurants here in Europe mostly see it as a “not-good-enough” dish to put it on the menu, so it´s pretty hard to find an Indian restaurant over here who serves it. Anyway the original is always better – hope to return to India one day and eat it every day until I´m sick of it!
2 STICKY RICE, Laos: It is what the name says – sticky! It´s a great side dish to fish, meat, papaya salad… pretty much everything! You can also eat it on its own. We ate it almost every day in Laos because it was so delicious and available everywhere. I´ve not seen it in Europe and even though I had serious intentions, I never tried to prepare it at home. Since we ate it so often and it tasted so good, it remains one of the most memorable foods from previous travels!
3 TAJINE, Morocco: Probably the most famous northern African dish is traditionally cooked over charcoal for a longer time in a special pot called Tajine, which consists of a base and a cover. The dish contains couscous, vegetables, different kinds of meat, spices (saffron, ginger, turmeric…) and dried fruits or nuts. You can order it in a restaurant, at a street food stall or even have an omelette baked in it. It´s simple but very delicious and we ate it all the time during our time in Morocco.
4 GOULASH, anywhere: Sometimes it seems goulash is everywhere (ok, maybe not in Asia). The main ingredient is meat and the rest depends on the recipe. I´m used to eating it from my home country, but have come across many different varieties so far. We love the ones in the edible bread bowls – we had delicious ones in Prague, but I believe Hungary also has lots to offer in this direction! Besides, it always feels good to eat something warm which also keeps you full for quite some time. This is also a great “beat-the-hangover” dish!
5 PAD THAI, Thailand: What´s the most delicious, most available inexpensive and known dish in Thailand? Without a doubt its Pad Thai. This (street food) stir-fried rice noodles speciality is the very first thing I associate with Khao San road in Bangkok, besides the lady boys and the forged documents dealers :). I especially love the crushed peanuts and freshly squeezed lime over it! Anyway, Pad Thai is something to be looking forward to every time you come back to the “land of the smiles”.
6 PANCAKES, anywhere: I used to eat them as a kid and I make them nowadays for Lu. I really don´t have a sweet tooth but I love pancakes. Especially banana pancakes! For breakfast, in Asia! Jack Johnson even made a song about banana pancakes so there must be something to it! Pancakes are often available for breakfasts and as street food snacks so it´s really convenient to like eating them ;). There are also salty versions – for example spinach cottage cheese pancakes! Yummy!
7 PHO, Vietnam: This famous rice noodle soup, consisting also of herbs and meat is a popular street food in Vietnam – we often had it for breakfast and although this might seem strange, we really felt this was a perfect breakfast dish! Just not before a longer bus ride maybe ;).
8 GREEN PAPAYA SALAD, Asia: Spicy papaya salad is something very special and very tasty! It´s all about a shredded green papaya fruit, pounded with garlic, salt, chilli, fish sauce and lime juice – delicious and very unique. The first one ever tasted still remains the best one – served to us at a local family in Laos.
9 TAPAS, Spain: Equivalent to Italian antipasti, eating tapas is a great way of spending an evening in Spain. Olives, Prosciutto, salami, cheese, herbs, olive oil and a glass of wine – there you have it, sometimes you don´t need more. You can also get the fish varieties! It makes a great snack and sometimes even the main course.
10 GRILLED FISH, anywhere: No matter where in the world you are, if you are by the sea – eat fish and you can´t miss! We love grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves, possibly in a tasty marinade! We had the best ones in Asia, often just at street food stalls. Fish is a big part of our menu if we are close to the coastline, so we try to eat as much of it as we can :).
11 SATAY, Malaysia: Basically, it´s meat on a stick. Simple but good! It´s a common thing all over the world in different shapes and sizes. Satay was one of our favourite foods in Malaysia and Indonesia, especially in combination with a spicy chilli or peanut sauce!
12 FRUIT SALAD, anywhere: Even though fruit is not my favourite (at least not all of it), I have to admit, on travels it does feel good to eat it! Especially in the tropical climate areas where you need lots of water anyway – our favourites are coconut water, dragon fruit, pineapple and mangos. For breakfast or snacks a local fruit salad is obviously a great choice, where ever you are!
13 FALAFEL, Egypt: Our favourite in the Middle East and northern Africa! Made of chickpeas and herbs, deep fried and served with hummus (chickpeas sauce) or other tahini-based dip. With it you get the traditional flatbread or pita bread which serves as a pocket for falafel balls. A fresh salad fits great! This is a wonderful snack and is sold everywhere on the street and in restaurants. Falafel is perfect for vegetarians also, as it contains no meat.
14 TUNA SANDWICH, anywhere: Nothing too special in this one, but it´s damn good! Especially if you´ve been living on rice noodles for a couple of weeks – sometimes we just need the good old bread and some onions, tuna and a maybe even an unhealthy sauce! The best ones I ever tasted were in parts of Vietnam and Laos where the French colony effect has done its job – delicious cheap filling breakfast!
15 PASTA, Italy: Ahh the good old pasta! In Italy, it´s everywhere, we even got a package of it as a welcome gift in every rented apartment on Sicily that had a kitchen! So funny ;). It´s one of the most conveniet foods to cook on the way if you have a kitchen in the apartment or are camping – with a little creativity, you can cook a real tasty meal where ever you are! We especially like shell or seafood pasta in Italy, they really know how to do it!
16 CURRY, Asia: When in doubt, order a curry! It´s a great warm yummy dish with lots of fresh ingredients and herbs, plus just the right amount of spiciness. Usually you can choose between a red and a green curry, a meat, fish or a vegetable one – the choice is wide, but the taste never disappoints. We love the mild coconut milk taste mixed with spicy chilli! We make it at home quite often and it reminds us of holidays every time we eat it ;).
17 CAESAR SALAD, anywhere: I had my first in the US many years ago and since then this is what I order if there is no local salad speciality on the menu. Caesar salad seems to be popular in lots of different countries and each time you get a different version. Sometimes it feels good to eat something as fresh as green lettuce!
18 BURGER, anywhere: Burger is sooo popular in Europe right now, you can get one pretty much everywhere. I can´t even count all the possible versions of it since you can basically put anything you want inside. Recently I had a great one in Finland – with grilled aubergines and berry sauce! Everywhere you go you find one with local ingredients and seasoned with different herbs and sauces. Not our everyday food on travels, but sometimes eating a juicy burger feels good!
19 OMELETTE, anywhere: One of our favourites for breakfast! Usually you can choose ingredients and they make it in front of you, so it´s always warm and fresh. In Asia they add those amazing spices, mmm. In Morocco we got it baked in tajine pot, which was amazing. So, also here – different country, different versions.
20 PIZZA, anywhere: We rarely eat pizza at home, but when travelling sometimes ordering a slice or the whole one is quick, convenient and if you´re lucky it tastes also good. We try to order one with local toppings and so far we had quite a few very interesting ones :). The oddest was for sure pizza with fries on it – the fries was quite a surprise as it was not mentioned on the menu