Photo by Anna Shepulova/Shutterstock
Photo by Holly Wilmeth
Mexico’s popular tacos al pastor dish combines traditional Middle Eastern flavors (influenced by Lebanese immigrants to the country) with spices indigenous to central Mexico.
Use this time of social distancing to discover the stories of unique delicacies from around the world and learn to recreate them for your family and friends.
There’s nothing quite like enjoying a delicacy in the place where it originated. For food-focused travelers, the thought of consuming fresh seafood in Chile 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—and we’re adding “recipes” to that list. In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, however, the responsible thing to do right now is to stay at home and not travel—for the time being. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep the travel spark alive until these tough times are behind us.
These drinks and dishes from around the world have fascinating backstories. Learn more about where they came from and how locals make them, then use this period of self-isolation to practice recreating the global dishes for the people you love while at home.
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). Read more about this mix—and learn how to make it.
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? The story will make your mouth water; read all about it and then make the treat for yourself.
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. Here’s what to know about some of Mumbai’s most popular (and flavorful) fast snacks, plus how you can recreate them at home.
Have you ever wondered what makes Thai food so inexplicably delicious? If you’ve been to Bangkok or elsewhere in Thailand, 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. Get started with the Nam Prik Pao recipe.
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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. Find out more about this traditional Greek treat, including what you need to make it.
Sopa de lima is a pillar of nearly every restaurant menu and home table throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. The soup represents the cultural fusion that defines the eastern region in Mexico—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). First, read the story of Mexico’s quintessential soup, then check out the true tale of tacos al pastor (and learn how to make both).
Lima, Peru, 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 the capital city’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. Learn about the history of ceviche, and how to prepare it, here.
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 (which are fairly easy to recreate from home), imagine you’re heading to Barcelona for a sweet hot drink that’ll warm you up in an entirely different way: Read the full background and recipe here.
If ravioli, dumplings, and hot pockets all came together to form one delightful dish, the final result would look something like maultaschen. (Yum!) The delicacy is thought to have originated in a monastery in southwest Germany, created by monks as a way to cheat their restrictive Lent diets. Here’s the story behind these sinfully delicious treats, and how you can prepare them for yourself.
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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, as the French word “éclair” translates 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 throughout the rest of France). Read more about the éclair’s 21st-century makeover and learn how to make the delightful sweet treat at home.
A bowl of this noodle soup does more than make your tastebuds soar—it reveals the fascinating history of trade along the Silk Road, which was formally established during the Han Dynasty of China in the 2nd century B.C.E. For a sense of the complex history behind this aromatic soup, trace its ingredients back to the still-standing street shops along the ancient trade route. How? Read this account of sourcing la mian in Lanzhou, the capital of China’s northwestern Gansu province. (The recipe is a great one to follow if you’re looking for healthy comfort food to make from home.)
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. This story focuses on how locals tackle the recipe in Tel Aviv, specifically. Learn the importance of the dish in this Middle Eastern metropolis, then try making it for your quarantined household.
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. While you can’t take a trip to Italy right now, you can read this article to get a taste of how the locals make it—and try your best to recreate the magic at home.
After you’ve finished preparing the above recipes, you’ll surely need a drink—so mix up the Nekomancer, a sake cocktail specialty served at Tokyo’s best midcentury modern bar. (Learn the recipe here.) You can also explore a variety of signature cocktails from around the world to make while practicing social distancing. Read the full gamut recipe.
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