When it comes to national foods, the stereotypes often live up to our expectations. Thanks to popular culture, we may have an idea in our head of a certain dining atmosphere that goes hand -in-hand with our chosen national cuisine. Although these days you can find replicas worldwide, there’s definitely something to be said about going authentic.
When you think of travelling, one of the most exciting aspects of those unexplored destinations on your itinerary is the food. Fortunately, for those of us unable to wander the world, some cultural cuisines have made it big internationally. From curry houses in India to Chinese dim sum, we have exported our favourite dishes from each nation and adopted them as our own.
So why travel? Because it’s not just about the local produce, generations of expertise and culinary skill, it’s also very much the atmosphere. Whilst we might be able to imitate the dish, there’s no substituting these authentic, traditional foodie spots.
Pizza and pasta have not been confined to the streets of Italia for quite some time. Italian style pizza has become popular the world over especially in Western countries like the US and UK where I’m sure we can’t remember a time without them!
Do the Italians do it better? Well, yes.
Travelling to Italy and heading to a pizzeria you also want loud, exciting, hand-gesture-filled, hearty meals with plenty of good wine, coffee, dolci and, well, some more good wine. And boy will you get them. After visiting Italy to experience just this, ordering delivery from the local takeaway doesn’t really match up.
You can pick up croissants from almost anywhere in the world but you can’t beat a trip to a truly French boulangerie. Snails and frogs legs aren’t really my thing but pastries, cakes and bread? That, I can get on board with.
With a small cafe to wash it all down with, I can think of nothing that so beautifully fits its stereotype like French food. It’s delicious, it’s luxurious and that romantic impression of artists avec berets being super chic and French isn’t all that difficult to find.
Although you can find good imitations wherever you go, the French are good at being French and that includes incredible food.
If somebody mentioned stereotypical American food, I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one whose mind would immediately shift to fries, hotdogs and burgers in a cheesy good ol’ diner in the US of A (rollerskates optional).
Childhoods and adolescence peppered with images of misunderstood teens meeting their buddies for a shake and fries at their favourite booth at Burger Palace. Whilst we’re at it, why don’t we all break into song? Cliched bliss.
Despite the fact that friends from the US broke my heart and revealed, actually, they probably eat more Mexican food than anything else, I’m still dreaming of 50s diners, jukeboxes and neon signs. And yes, I also can’t wait to rush home and watch all of those guilty-pleasure 80s films…
Sushi. Oh sushi. So good I had to say it twice. If someone had offered me raw fish and rice twenty years ago I might have turned up my nose but these days sushi, along with other famously Japanese exports, has exploded all over the world.
Teppanyaki restaurants pepper the streets of the worlds biggest cities and Japanese food has found itself up there with the food gurus of the world like Italy and France. Why do people want to sit with strangers and watch a magical chef make magical food right before their magical eyes? Because its got that authenticity I’ve been talking about.
Making sushi is so much more complicated that I could have ever imaged before researching for this article and I now have a newfound respect for the beauty of sashimi. Transport yourself to a delicately decorated dining room complete with cushions, screens and tea and the image is complete.
Although this stereotype is often vehemently fought off by many Brits, there’s no pretending that the UK doesn’t love a good pub. From Ye Olde English Inns to city breweries, the idea of Sunday lunch is still very British at its core.
Warming up next to the fire at the local with a plateful of hearty food and a mug of mulled wine while it snows outside is a bit of a romantic notion, but it’s also pretty accurate. You can’t fake history which is an experience so many travellers brave the infamous British weather for. A 200-year-old cosy pub down a cobbled street isn’t that much of a novelty in the UK and it certainly can’t be imitated.
I’ve never met somebody who doesn’t like Thai food in some form or another. Those flavoursome and downright delicious dishes are one of the most popular culinary exports in the world.
Think you’ve had an amazing pad thai? Think again. One of the best meals I ever had – EVER – cost me about $3 from a food cart on the side of the road. Thai food is all about the spice but it’s also about that local flavour, which can’t be bought and can’t be replicated. Markets thick with rich smells and thicker smoke add to the experience of real Thai street food.