Around the world, there are many cities that have given birth to sumptuous meals that have gained fans the world over. While restaurants abroad dedicated to foreign cuisines often do an admirable job emulating these recipes, there is no replacement for the countless years of experience in preparing these dishes that chefs in their home cities possess.
In this light, the foodie traveler is well-served by seeking out the birthplaces of the favourite food that they love best, and consuming them in the kitchens where they were likely first conceived. So that we may introduce a new wrinkle into your dual love affair with food and travel, we have highlighted three specific dishes that one will enjoy best when they are eaten in their respective hometowns.
Let us start this gastronomic journey by talking about…
1) Khao Soi, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Composed of dry crunchy noodles sat atop a sweet coconut broth, accented with a touch of lime juice, Khao Soi is the pride of the Northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. Soft yellow noodles lie within this addictive soup, which can come with chicken, pork, or in vegetarian concoctions that contain tofu.
Fancy five star hotel restaurants, hole-in-the-wall establishments, and street stalls alike all proudly serve this dish … just don’t blame us for becoming addicted to this amazing curry after you come home and have trouble finding it in Thai restaurants there (honestly, it’s saddening!)
2) Poutine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
While it won’t win any awards as a miracle health food any time soon, there is no doubting poutine’s place as a comfort food, a 3 AM hunger killer, and as a meal that can stop a hangover dead in its tracks. This heart attack on a paper plate starts with a French fry base, which is then covered in cheese curd (NOT grated cheese, there is a difference!), and topped with a lava hot coating of gravy.
Primarily found in Quebec (though it is increasingly found in many other urban centres across Canada), the best place to have your first run in with poutine is after a long night living the high life on Saint Catherine’s Street in Montreal, a practice that will not only sop up all the craft beer, wine and Patron shots you been drinking, but will also put you in touch with the fun-loving Quebecois that make this city one of the primo party spots in all of North America!
3) Paella, Valencia, Spain
While this rice dish is primarily associated with the type that contains seafood such as mussels and shrimp, the original Valencian version of this dish was made with vole, a rodent during the early days when people in the area were quite poor. As fortunes improved over the years, it was made with chicken, duck, and due to its position on the Mediterranean Sea, various types of seafood. The aspect that gives this dish its Valencian appeal is the fact that it is cooked over a flame containing the boughs of orange and pine trees, whose smoke further infuses the paella with its distinctive flavour.
Elevate Your Foodie Travel Game
While it is awesome to experience the cuisine that a particular nation is famous for, niching down and trying dishes that specific cities have birthed will further your connection to the places that you visit. Locals will impart their passion for said foods when you seek them out, leading to a much more authentic experience!