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14 famous foods & where to try the original
Authentic foods, in the destinations that do them best: we round up some moreish favourites and pair them with their place of origin.
Where else to try the best burgers in the world? The Big Apple has beef burgers for every taste, from pared-back patties, to stacked monsters bursting with extras. The New York bagel (a Jewish import from Poland) is also something of a NY obsession, while cupcakes are the new kids on the block, with competing bakeries taking cupcake crafting to the realms of high art.
Peru is undergoing a culinary renaissance and Lima is the place to try ceviche, the seafood cocktail for which coastal Peru is famous. Ceviche is a tangy salad of raw fish cured in lemon and lime, chilli, diced onion and coriander. Ceviche goes particularly well with choclo (corn on the cob), its traditional accompaniment.
Chilli crab is a must-try dish in Singapore, consisting of mud crabs stir-fried in a tomato and (mild) chilli sauce. The dish originated as a street food sold from the pushcart of a local hawker; today you'll find it featuring across the city's menus. Another delicious local favourite is laksa, a spicy Peranakan noodle soup.
The Belgians like to think they outdo evening the French when it comes to cuisine, and the same can be said for hallowed Belgian frites. The secret to the rich taste and crispness of Belgian chips is that they're double-fried. Frites are available as a snack all over Brussels, usually served in a cone with a huge blob of mayonnaise – sinful but delicious. For a sweet snack, Belgian waffles are not to be missed either.
New Nordic cuisine is making big waves in Stockholm, but the humble meatball is still up there as a Swedish staple, and is best tried in the capital. There are many different preparations, though typically the recipe includes equally measures of lamb and beef mince with diced onion, allspice and a side serving of lingonberries.
Beijingers love to eat, and roast Peking duck is the city's famed speciality, typically served with thin pancakes and slivers of spring onion. The first record of Peking duck dates all the way back to the Yuan Dynasty, with a 1330 mention in a cookbook from the imperial kitchens. Now considered a national dish of China, Beijing is the place to try it.
Sweet, creamy, flaky, heavenly – the famous custard tarts at Café Pastéis de Belém, home of the original recipe, are Lisbon's must try. Originally conceived in the monastery opposite the café, the monks began selling the tarts here after the monasteries were dissolved during the liberal revolution of 1830.
Rijsttafel originated as a Dutch colonial feast in Indonesia – a wide variety of small Indonesian dishes served with different types of rice (rijsttafel translates as 'rice table'). Dutch Indonesia restaurants can be found all over Amsterdam – we recommend Tempo Doeloe; it's a feast worth trying.
Though created relatively recently (mid-20th century), this Roman dish has quickly become a worldwide favourite and is a must-try if you're visiting the Italian capital. Creamy, al dente spaghetti tossed in eggs, Pecorino cheese and pancetta – a great lunchtime carb-fix while exploring the sites and streets of Rome.
An exotic, flavoursome stew slow-cooked (and served) in traditional earthenware pots, the tagine is a traditional Berber dish from North Africa. It's a staple of Moroccan cuisine, and a must-try in Marrakech. There are countless varieties of tagine to try, using meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruit and spices, with the most popular tagines typically including lamb and dates.
Tandoori chicken originates in the Punjab region of northern India and eastern Pakistan, and is traditionally cooked in a clay tandoor oven. Marinated in yoghurt and spices before being roasted at a high temperature, tandoori chicken is now loved across the world. Delhi (historically part of the Punjab) is a great place to sample the authentic taste of tandoori cuisine.
An evening tapas crawl is a quintessential Madrid experience: head for central Cava Baja for some of the best, alternating old-school tapas joints with gastrobars, while sipping wines from different Spanish regions by the glass. Spain's major culinary gift to the world is served in two sizes: raciones (essentially half a meal) and traditional tapas (a snack served on a saucer).
Invented by an Istanbul confectionist in 1777, this delicate sweet took the fancy of a visiting Brit, who had cases of it shipped back to Britain under the name of 'Turkish Delight'. The sweet caught on among European high society and it became a delicacy often exchanged as gifts. Istanbul is also great for Turkish meze, small savoury bites traditionally sold by street vendors.
The witchetty grub is unlikely to catch on as an international snackfood, but the large protein-rich moth larvae, sought out and eaten by Australian aborigines, is surprisingly tasty either raw (think sweet almonds) or lightly roasted (chicken skin). Locals refer to them as 'bush toffee'. Take the plunge and try a grub for yourself in Uluru.