Are your taste buds bored? Take them on a world tour of taste to sample the delicious cuisines of Mexico, Louisiana, Thailand and Italy.
Mexico City, Mexico
Hola, mi amigo! Love your burritos, fajitas and crunchy tacos? Uh, oh. Chances are, you’ve never actually eaten ‘real’ Mexican food. Here’s what you need to know about real Mexican food: it’s hot, hot, hot and soft, soft, soft. Tortillas are a staple in traditional Mexican food, corn tortillas that is. In the absence of corn tortillas, traditional Mexican food may be served in banana leaves or corn husks; it’s always piping hot, fresh and full of chilli. Over 140 varieties of chilli are grown in Mexico, although here’s a handy list of twelve essential varieties, including the infamous habanero chilli. Don’t waste time in a fancy restaurant, for the best Mexican food head to the street vendors. If you need to wash down a scorching overdose of chilli in your tostado, grab the tequila! Fresh juices also abound, including a delightful lightly fermented, non-alcoholic pineapple drink called tepache.
New Orleans, Louisiana
You may not have heard of Creole food but you’ve probably heard of New Orleans, the cosmopolitan heart of Creole cuisine. Louisiana Creole blends French, African, Spanish, Native American, Italian and Portuguese influences. Creole is not Cajun, although the two cuisines share some base ingredients, particularly spice blends. Famous dishes include gumbo, a spicy prawn and sausage soup, jambalaya, a spicy rice and meat dish similar to paella, and crawfish étouffée, a thick shellfish stew over rice. Bit of a sweet tooth? If you’ve ever had pecan pie, you’ve eaten a version of Creole cuisine, although traditional Creole pecan pie is spiced. Beignets are fried dough covered in powdered sugar, best served with a side of chicory coffee and are to die for! Cafe du Monde in New Orleans is famous for specialising in beignets, chicory coffee and cafe au lait; it’s open late and is the perfect place to warm away the heebie jeebies after a ghost tour of the haunted French Quarter.
Your local takeaway’s pad thai has nothing on the real thing! Thai food in Thailand is much spicier than its Australian equivalent and much fresher too. Thai food combines sweet, spicy, salty and sour in each dish to liven up the taste buds. Try Tom Yum Goong, a spicy Thai soup with prawns, for an introduction to the delights of spicy-sour cooking. Thailand’s cuisine features soups, noodle dishes and curries. Coconut, lemongrass, chilli, kaffir lime, lime, peanuts and galangal feature heavily in Thai dishes. Simplicity is nowhere to be found in Thai food, instead working to balance heady aromatics with a complex blend of herbs, spices and other ingredients. A mouthful of traditional Thai food should be a taste explosion. If you need a beverage to cleanse your palate, grab a glass of Cha Yen, a coconut and condensed milk concoction flavoured with tamarind and orange blossom.
Travelling soon? Read up on Thailand Travel Insurance before you leave.
Food is serious business in Italy. Food is not just fuel; it’s part of the lifestyle and dining is an experience meant to be savoured. When in Rome, do as the Romans do…don’t rush your meals and don’t rush your restaurant! Although it’s almost obligatory to have pizza and pasta in Italy, there are a few things worth remembering. Italian’s don’t (usually) use tomato sauce, favouring fresh tomatoes, olive oil, oregano and basil instead; crusts tend to be thinner and crispier. Spaghetti Bolognese does not exist in Italy. What we Australians call Bolognese is what the Italians refer to as ragu, or meat sauce. Ragu is never served with spaghetti. Ever. It is, however, served with tagliatelle. If you’re hankering for pasta with meat sauce, order tagliatelle al ragu. Beer drinkers, take note, beer and soft drinks are only acceptable beverages when eating pizza; drink wine or water if ordering other foods. After a meal, head to a gelateria and sample the fine gelato on offer but look for one with a sign that reads produzione propria or artigianale, which means they make their product on-site, truly delicious and authentic.
Alright, time to dust off your passports and ready your tastebuds, but before you eat and drink your way around the world, remember to compare travel insurance, just in case something unexpected happens. Happy eating!