Traveling the Good Food Highway: Our Favorite Foods Around the World

Traveling the Good Food Highway

Good food is always a part of traveling. Food unlocks unfamiliar frontiers. I’m convinced that food just tastes better when I travel– whether it is across the pond or across town. We take our taste buds along with our cameras and our guidebooks when we travel the good food highway.  Here are just a handful of some of my stories that start at the end of a fork.

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patisserie1-1024x768 Traveling the Good Food Highway: Our Favorite Foods Around the World

Traveling the Good Food Highway
Food for the Soul

But on a real note, I get it. There’s definitely something about food that unites us. Something more than just the basic nourishment and sustenance of our bodies. I think we are programmed to share it.  And the latest technology, cell phones, has increased the options we have to do just that.

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The Best Stories Always Start with Food

We celebrate, mourn, and comfort one another while we eat. We labor for hours chopping, mincing, dicing, marinating, sauteing, and simmering. And then we spend hours lingering and mingling over it. Food is life. Some of the best stories start with good food. Because food is a massive part of the travel experience, only some things I’ve eaten, I’d eat again, that’s for sure, i.e. Fruit de Mer. Frog legs, snails, horse meat, and even pigeons– loved them all. I had to finger-fight my youngest over the last frog leg.

For more food-related travel stories, check out Venetian Seafood Salad and Why I Chose Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Fresh Baked Bread
My Grandma Mabel in Baltimore

One of my absolute favorite foods is bread. One of my earliest and fondest food memories happened in my grandmother’s kitchen. My grandma Mabel used to make the best-baked bread. The memory alone makes me salivate. She’d rise early Sunday mornings before the sun. And make pan after pan of golden baked, butter-topped, fluffy white rolls. I’d wake up to the most delightful aromas and every tabletop, flat surface, including chairs, would be covered in bread. All morning long, people would travel from all over the city to get a few rolls. Grandma never charged a single penny. She did it out the kindness of her heart and because she loved making people happy.

My grandmother has been gone for many years now. And it pains the entire family that no one, not a single one of my mother’s sisters, were able to replicate her recipe. Believe me, they tried. However, the rolls were not quite the same. So eventually, they all gave up and get their rolls from the grocery store like everybody else.

French Pastries

The only other time I’ve ever felt like Sunday morning was walking into a French patisserie on Rue Cler in Paris. The bread was literally dripping from the ceiling, hanging from every nook and cranny. The crust is thick and crunchy and the inside is soft and chewy. And the aroma of baked bread, pain du sucre, croissants, honey buns, fruit tarts, and chocolate eclairs was overwhelming. It was palpable in the air all around me. You wanna just stick your tongue and lick the air. it’s just good food.

Eating Paella

Good food results when cultures merge. It’s a way to travel without leaving home. It allows you to explore the spices of the North African Moors, the herbs of Provence, or the variations in olive oil grown all over the Mediterranean.

Paella is one of those things that is a melding of cultures. Most people consider it a traditional Spanish delicacy. However, it would not be possible without saffron, lemons, and bay leaf. However, the Moors of Northern Africa brought all three of the European continent. And it’s a dish that has many variations.

I’ve had an all-seafood variation that included tiny shellfish in Mallorca. And I had it with chicken and chorizo sausage in Barcelona. I even made the mistake of ordering it in Brussels, let’s just say that wasn’t a great idea. I should have ordered the Moules et Frites (mussels and fries) or a savory waffle instead. Stick to what you know, is not only a cute slogan but a recipe for good food and a good life.

Food is Really Good When it’s Shared
And When You Travel

That’s something I’ve come to wholeheartedly believe. We get nourishment for our bodies as well as the soul when we eat with family and friends we love. That’s why I won’t eat with people I believe are toxic. I don’t want to ingest their caustic fumes along with my pasta.

Speaking of pasta. Do you like spaghetti? I do. But it’s never been one of those things I’d order if I was going out to dinner. I can make some pretty lip-smacking good spaghetti in my own kitchen.

However, on a trip to Rome, I ordered a plate of spaghetti and an order of shrimp and arancini—a meal that I’ll never ever forget.

Check out Eating a Pizza with a Knife and Fork in Germany here.

Off with their Heads

The waiter placed the first course of shrimp before me. And I had the opportunity to meet the little critters face to face. Their beady little black eyes stared straight through my soul. I cut off their head and their head and their head. The arancini came next. Arancini or little orange in Italian is a fried arborio rice ball packed around some cheese and other fillings. OMG!! Those little suckers are good!!! I’ve tried to make them several times with little success.

The pièce de résistance was a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce. I wanted to lick the plate!!! I don’t know if it was that good or just eating in pasta in Rome elevates the food exponentially, or what.

Sure, here’s the narrative without the HTML formatting, capturing the essence of diverse dining experiences around the world.

Seafood Salad with Don Fernando

Traveling strikes up some peculiar surprises. In Venice, I was served an entire octopus, pulled from the lagoon moments earlier. The owner, Don Fernando, plopped down beside me and simply seasoned it with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil. “Mange, mange,” he suggested. Despite my efforts, it was so rubbery and tasteless that I discreetly picked out the seafood I recognized and hid the rest under my napkin.

Eating Pizza with a Knife and Fork

Nothing seemed stranger than our first meal at a local pizza parlor in Germany. Unlike in the States, self-seating is the norm, and don’t expect large sodas or free refills. When our pizzas arrived, they weren’t sliced at all, which was a surprise. Observing others, we noticed everyone cut bite-size pieces instead of the usual wedges. It was different, but we adapted and enjoyed our meal just the same.

Cheap and Fresh

Food in Greece, the home of the doner kebab, is relatively inexpensive yet incredibly satisfying. Doners, typically made with thinly sliced lamb and served with fresh vegetables and a delicious yogurt sauce in a warm pita, proved that good food doesn’t have to be expensive. Greece became one of the few places in Europe where we eagerly anticipated both breakfast and lunch.

Check out cheap eats in the culinary capital of Paris here.

Family Style Meals

Some of my favorite dining experiences were family-style meals with friends. On a trip to Croatia, dining in a courtyard on Hvar Island, we enjoyed Mediterranean delicacies, including bite-sized octopus, under the shade of ancient stone buildings. The setting was so enchanting that even the simplest meal would have delighted me.

Potatoes Bravas & Other Tapas

I adore tapas, Spain’s signature small plates. From olives to patatas bravas, these bite-sized delights are perfect for sampling Spain’s culinary diversity. Some bars offer free tapas with drinks, while others tally your toothpicks to determine your bill. Despite my kids’ preference for fast food, my true passion was exploring different tapas bars, savoring new dishes each night.

Festival Food

Festival food is a highlight of attending seasonal celebrations, despite not being the healthiest option. From roasted chicken and suckling pig to bratwurst and fried potatoes, the flavors are as rich as the history they celebrate. Sitting among locals, enjoying traditional dishes, and indulging in sweet treats from various cultures is a joy.

France, Greece & Turkey

Every country has its version of a sweet, fried dough treat. Germany offers the Berliner, France has the beignet, and Greece and Turkey delight with loukoumades. In Spain, churros y chocolate is a favorite, while Mallorca is known for its ensaimadas, a coil-shaped pastry that locals enjoy at all times of the day.

Corner Markets
Locally Grown Produce

Since returning to the states, I’ve missed the fresh produce available at corner markets abroad. Preferring fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally, I’ve leaned towards shopping at smaller, local establishments rather than large chains, seeking the freshness and quality that remind me of my travels.

Slow Food, Good Food

The slow food movement, which emphasizes seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, has captivated me in France, Italy, and Ireland. Restaurants like the Provençal Café in Williamsburg, which changes its menu based on local availability, embody this philosophy, offering fresh, nutritious, and delicious meals inspired by the Mediterranean.

Check out this post on the Slow Food Movement here.

In the End…

This narrative captures the diversity and richness of international dining experiences, from unexpected culinary surprises to the simple joy of sharing meals, underscoring the profound connection between food, culture, and the pleasure of discovery.

Street food aromas, flavors, simple prep & ingredients are the quintessential cheap travel eats. And street food in Asia resonates like nothing else. There’s nothing like good fast food and motorbike exhaust at a street-side stall. The flavors and aromas ignite all the senses and become what you remember most about the place.

Read my tips for staying safe while eating street food in Asia here.

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  1. Yeah Lifestyle

    Trying new good food is definitely an important part of travelling – I always make sure I try something new in whatever city I am in. There’s been some dishes I won’t try again and others that I loved, but trying them is all part of the fun.

  2. kumamonjeng

    Totally agree with you that good food and explore new food in the local is part of traveling. Through food we learn about the background stories of the local culture and history. Glad you have a write up on eating paella as I have little knowledge on Spanich food but I am exploring Spain next month so I would certainly order the seafood paella.

  3. Sydney

    I agree – trying new foods is definitely one of my favorite parts of traveling! Every city and country has something unique and delicious to offer and I love seeking out great places to eat on my trips.

  4. Joanna

    I am such a big foodie and always indulge in the local cuisines when I travel. For me there is no other option that the local food when I am visiting a new country. I have some really memorable meals myself. 🙂

  5. Catherine Santiago Jose

    Wow, those food that you showed here looks really delicious and I can say that the best perks of traveling is tasting different kind of delicious food.

  6. Gervin Khan

    You write everything in this so well. I love traveling a lot and one of my favorite things to find is to eat a delicious food.

  7. Alexandra Cook

    Wow, what an amazing post! 🙂 YUM! Food is such an important part of travel. Love this so much. I am saving this post to refer to later.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Me too. If I don’t find something delicious to eat, I feel like I wasn’t trying hard enough. Because it’s been my experience that every city has something to offer to the good food highway.

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