It’s been said that you can tell the quality of a restaurant by the bread. The same goes for cities and their pastries.

Most rolling carts in Istanbul sell bagel-like açma for a single lira.

A BEAUTIFUL MESS
New Orleans is not known for its rules, but there is one when it comes to eating sugar-dusted beignets: Don’t wear black. Try them at Café du Monde, where the smell of the deep-fried fritters mingles with that of roasted chicory and coffee.

KOREA’S PRIZED PASTRY
In 1939, baker Choi Yeong Hwa put Gyeongju, South Korea, on the carb map by inventing the city’s namesake Gyeongju bread—a sweet pastry stuffed with adzuki beans and adorned with the imprint of a flower.

MEET THE BAGEL’S TURKISH COUSIN
Istanbul’s yeasty açma is slightly peppery and loaded with nigella seeds, which are similar to sesame. “You know you’ve got a good one if you have to reach for a napkin,” says local tour guide Gokalp Kasim.

BRAZIL’S CHEESY POOFS
São Paulo’s pão de queijo gives France’s gougère a run for its money. Made from starchy cassava-root flour, this popover gets its gooey goodness from airy pockets filled with pools of Parmesan cheese.

BETTER THAN DOUGHNUT HOLES
Loukoumades, the cinnamon dough balls that are everywhere in Athens, date back to the early Olympics. For maximum crisp, buy them only from bakeries that drizzle honey on them right before serving.

THE FLAPJACK OF MADAGASCAR
You’ll find mokary at almost any kiosk in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo. The batter, which vendors cook over an open fire, is akin to pancake mix with one major exception: the winning addition of coconut milk.

This appeared in the March/April 2015 issue. Photo by Jeffery Cross.