Food reveals so much about a location. It represents the influences of different cultures, reflects the major crops of the area and can be central to celebrations and festivals. And even though we all love food, we often overlook the details that set one culture’s dishes apart from another’s. Luckily, there are cities throughout the world that celebrate food and are passionate about every last ingredient. Here are some of my ideal food destinations.
Starting nearby, the cities of Charleston and Savannah both embrace the local seafood. In casual hangouts and fine dining restaurants alike, you can expect the seafood to be fresh and the options to be plentiful. Places like Red’s Icehouse in Charleston and Tybee Island’s Crab Shack have you with coconut shrimp, fried seafood baskets and the low country boil – a feast of shrimp, corn sausage and potatoes. For more elaborate cuisine, the Olde Pink House of Savannah offers a wide variety of seafood along with other popular dishes. Seafood favorites include the scored flounder doused in apricot shallot sauce, the blackened oyster appetizer and a shellfish tower.
As discussed on the Travel Bags show, San Francisco is another dream destination for food lovers. Not only does it offer world-class cuisine, it also has a unique history that gives its original dishes character. After researching the classic dishes of San Francisco, it is my mission to try the “Hangtown Fry,” a dish that traces back to the California Gold Rush. Hangtown Fry consists of some of my favorite foods – scrambled eggs, oysters and bacon. I would personally add some hot sauce, too.
Belgium seems to be a hidden gem for foodies. It is a small country bordering France and Germany, countries that are world-renowned in their own right. But you shouldn’t overlook Belgium. It is home to over 165 different types of cheese and produces 172,000 tons of chocolate per year. Chocolate and cheese are typically seen as guilty pleasures, the kind of food we try to eat in moderation. But I am of the belief that when you are on vacation, especially in a foreign country, there are no guilty pleasures – only genuine enjoyment. Belgium’s waffles also set the country apart. The Brussels waffle is often served with whipped cream, strawberries or chocolate and the Liège waffle has a burnt sugar coating and is often served by street venders.
As the largest country in Africa and along the coast of the Mediterranean, perhaps Algeria’s food has the most stories to tell out of any foodie destination. So many cultures have blended to influence the contemporary cuisine in this beautiful country. Before you begin exploring, start your day with m’shewsha, which is a halfway point between an omelet and French toast. It is so filling that it is often the breakfast of manual laborers who are preparing for a hard day’s work. It sounds like the perfect meal for adventurous travelers, too. Although couscous is a well-known dish, there is nothing quite like the couscous offered in Algeria. The preparation involves a lengthy steaming process and requires patience. But it all becomes worth it when paired with a vegetable, chicken or meat stew. Qalb ellouz is a mainstay dessert during the month of Ramadan. It is a sandwich layered in syrup and filled with ground almonds and cinnamon, a true appeal to the taste buds.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about foodie travel is the knowledge you gain. Not only will you learn about the cultural influences and heritage of each destination, you will also bring home new recipes and a greater understanding of food in general.
Author: Olivia Varnson, Travel and Sports Enthusiast – Always searching for great travel destinations. She is making a list and checking it twice. Olivia lives in the Gainesville, GA area.