10 OBSCURE BUT DELICIOUS DISHES & DRINKS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
By Erik Wolf, MA, CCTP, MCTP, World Food Travel Association
Every country you visit will have at least one dish that has become the poster delicacy for that destination: haggis for Scotland; pizza for Italy; paella for Spain. Yet there are so many great foods that are still largely unknown. Here are a few obscure foods that I have enjoyed from around the world. Do try them if you get the chance.
Fanesca is an Ecuadorian soup served at Easter. If you are in North America or the UK, you might call it a fish and bean chowder. And a soup that tastes this good has to have a little cream in it. The flavour is absolutely heavenly. Hot tip: find a version that has potatoes in it. There are more than 700 different types of potatoes in this world of hidden foods, and I guarantee if they use it in this soup, the type of potato will be entirely new to you. Think buttery. Arrive hungry.
AJI DE GALLINA (Peru)
This is a chicken dish made with yellow chilies, turmeric, white bread, walnuts, egg, and the hard-to-find Peruvian black olives, which I think are probably the best in the world. I’ve only ever had versions of this dish that I liked in Peru. Attempts to create it elsewhere have unfortunately always failed, even with Peruvian chefs. There is just something about trying to replicate the recipe with ingredients outside of Peru – it just doesn’t work. To try the real thing, you must travel to Peru.
OPEN-FACED SHRIMP SANDWICH (Sweden)
Sweden is perhaps best known for meatballs with lingonberries—thanks largely to the influence of furniture brand IKEA in helping to promote Swedish foods—yet I have always preferred Sweden’s open-faced shrimp sandwich. Small shrimps in mayonnaise on usually buttered rye bread, dill of course, and garnish. The nice thing about these sandwiches is that they are laden with shrimp. Not just a couple, but a heaping mound. Skip the meatballs. Shrimp lovers enjoy!
SEARED TUNA SASHIMI WITH SESAME OIL (South Korea)
I enjoyed this dish with colleagues in Daegu, during one of my many trips to this country of friendly people. I do not speak Korean and my colleagues did not speak much English. Nevertheless, we were able to communicate, simply with food. This dish was brought out and I have to say, I made a bit of a pig of myself, but it was so delicious! Flavourful tuna just lightly seared, then dipped with the famous Korean metal chopsticks, into Korean toasted sesame oil. They kept bringing out more dishes of it, and I am embarrassed to say that I ate every last bite!
KUMARA FRIES (New Zealand)
If you like sweet potato fries, then kumara fries will be no stranger to you. Kumara is a kind of sweet potato. Add oil and fry. Sprinkle with salt and voila! No magic there. But what makes them so tasty is that vegetables in New Zealand actually taste really, really good. Whether it is the terroir or the use of primarily organic growing practices, you have not had sweet potato fries like these. And bonus. Did you know that kumaras are related to the morning glory flower? In fact, some cultivars of the same plant grow the flowers ornamentally. Tasty and beautiful.
KUDU STEAK (South Africa)