There’s nothing quite like enjoying a delicacy in the place where it originated. For food-focused travelers, the thought of consuming fresh poke in Hawaii or sipping super-healthy matcha in Japan is enough reason to traverse the globe. But one of the greatest joys of travel is the ability to bring experiences, memories, and life lessons home with you, after your trip has ended. And we’re adding “recipes” to that list. These 15 drinks and dishes from around the world have fascinating backstories. Learn more about where they came from and how locals make them, then serve them to the people you love.
Where: Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, there’s a cocktail that’s actually good for you. You’ll find it served in nearly every bar in Prague, and all jokes aside about its distinctive name, the drink’s main ingredient, Becherovka, has some truly redeeming health benefits (allegedly). To learn more about this mix—and how to make it—read the full story.
Pao Bhaji (also known as Pav Bhaji)
Mumbai is pretty much a street-food paradise. And in India’s largest city, it’s all about combinations: sweet, savory, fried, crunchy, boiled—always prepared on the spot. Learn where to find (and how to make) Mumbai’s flavorful fast snacks here.
Nam Prik Pao
Have you ever wondered what makes Thai food so inexplicably delicious? If you’ve been to Bangkok or elsewhere in the country, you know that nam prik pao, a spicy chili paste, is in large part to thank. Many locals have strong opinions about how (and how not) to eat it, so you’ll want to study up on the delicacy here.
The classic sponge cake, known as a lamington, is one of Australia’s proudest culinary inventions. So much so, in fact, that there’s even folklore surrounding its creation. The cake used to be a staple childhood treat in the Land Down Under, but it’s undergone a modern revival. How did the nostalgia-inducing dish make its way back into Sydney’s top bakeries? Read the heartwarming account—it’ll make your mouth water.
Sopa de Lima and Tacos al Pastor
Sopa de lima is a pillar of nearly every restaurant menu and home table throughout Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The soup represents the cultural fusion that defines the area—a seamless blend of indigenous flavors with European, Asian, and Middle Eastern fare. But, of course, no Mexican-inspired meal is complete without tacos al pastor—another staple of traditional cuisine (and a street-food classic in Mexico City). Sip on the story of Mexico’s quintessential soup, then eat up the true tale of the country’s staple snack.
Peru’s capital city has a thriving culinary scene, the spirit of which is embodied in one dish: ceviche. The plate was born out of a strong fishing culture along the Peruvian coast and eventually made its way to Lima’s top-tier restaurant menus. The raw fish dish includes Inca, Spanish, African, and Japanese flavors—a testament to the range of influences defining Peruvian gastronomy. Catch the full story and recipe here.
In Greece’s Peloponnese countryside, farm-to-table fare is not taken lightly. Foraging is a serious pastime, and most meals are prepared with some variation of horta (edible wild greens sourced directly from the peninsula’s surrounding areas). The country’s beloved wintertime snack, hortopita, is totally worth a try. The hearty pie is a lesser-known version of spanakopita, and it’s actually healthy. Learn more about this traditional Greek treat.
If ravioli, dumplings, and hot pockets all came together to form one delightful dish, the final result would look something like maultaschen. (Yum!) According to legend, the delicacy originated in a monastery in southwest Germany, created by monks as a way to cheat their restrictive Lent diets. Read the fascinating full story of these sinfully delicious treats here.
Pimientos de Padrón and Chocolate a la Taza
In Spain’s northwest corner, bar snacks bring the heat. Instead of pubs serving chips or peanuts, local tabernas sell plates of fiery green peppers. But biting into a Padrón pepper is like playing a game of Spanish roulette. So after you’ve read the full story of Galicia’s pimientos de Padrón, head to Barcelona for a sweet hot drink that’ll warm you up in an entirely different way.
Nothing says “French flavor” like an airy Parisian pastry . . . and nothing says “Parisian pastry” more than a classic éclair. Historians speculate that the delicacy’s name is a nod to its delicious nature, translating loosely to “a flash of lightning” in reference to how quickly one can be devoured. Although the public’s love for this treasured French pastry never changes, its recipe is constantly evolving, both in Paris’s bakeries and beyond. Read more about the éclair’s 21st-century makeover here.
A bowl of this noodle soup does more than make your tastebuds soar—it reveals the fascinating history of trade along the Silk Road. For a sense of the centuries-old story behind this aromatic soup, trace its ingredients back to the still-standing street shops along the Silk Road’s route. Or read the story of sourcing la mian in Lanzhou.
Hummus, pita, baba ghanoush, falafel—you can’t go wrong with these scrumptious delicacies eaten religiously (by people of all religions) across the Middle East. In this arid region, hummus isn’t simply sustenance; it’s culture. The communal dish is a perfect appetizer and conversation starter. Tackle it for yourself as they do in Tel Aviv, but first: Learn the importance of the dish in this Middle Eastern metropolis here.
For tried-and-true pesto, there’s only one place to go: Genoa, the birthplace of the special Italian sauce. According to the Genovese, the basil needed to make authentic pesto only grows in and around the Liguria region of the Italian Riviera. So, you’ll have to book a trip there to taste how the locals make it. Or you can read this article.
After you’ve finished preparing the above recipes, you’ll surely need a drink. Mix up the Nekomancer, a sake cocktail specialty served at Tokyo’s best midcentury modern bar.