Around the world in 8-ish dishes
Can you eat your way around the world from the comfort of your own home?
With lockdown restrictions extending longer than everyone would have hoped, many people are starting to feel restless, longing for the chance to escape our local bubbles and travel further afield.
If, like us, you’re daydreaming of food-fuelled jet-setting, flying off to far away lands to explore creative cuisines from every corner of the globe, then we feel for you. At the moment, the best we can do is remain optimistic that those days will return soon.
Or is it…
What if it was possible to taste your way around the world without ever having to leave your kitchen? You may not have the warmth of the sun on your back and cool sand beneath your feet, but at least there’s no early starts, no rush to the airport and no queues for the loos!
To help satisfy your international hungers, we’ve put together some of our all time favourites recipes from around the world. So, without further delay...all aboard, buckle up, and please keep your arms and legs inside the blog at all times!
To start our adventure we’ve chosen Belgium's national dish - no, it’s not Brussels sprouts!
The national dish of Belgium is ‘Moules et frites’ and consists of fresh mussels cooked in a lusciously light olive oil with white wine, garlic, thyme, and shallots, and served alongside potato fries. It’s quite possibly one of our favourite (non-Spanish!) dishes to make at home. Bringing beautiful seafood and golden crispy chips together is a true delight, especially when accompanied by an authentic garlic-flavored crème fraîche or homemade mayonnaise.
Where will we be flying off to next...
Flying from western Europe and on to hotter climes, our next recipe is a spicy classic from the Caribbean island of Jamaica: Jamaican jerk chicken. As a country, Jamaica is lush and varied, bringing together many elements to create a truly unique experience. Jamaican jerk recipes are exactly that, a sensational blend of peppers, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, brown sugar, ginger, and salt.
Our advice for making Jamaican jerk chicken at home is to not spare the ginger, compliment with zesty lime, and start off mild if you’re not used to the spice - this dish can pack quite a punch! Oh, and choose the right oil for grilling your meats, such as La Española’s Light In Colour Olive Oil!
A little too hot to handle? Let’s head back to Europe for our next stop...
Italy is one of those countries that offers visitors a hugely diverse range of food. The flavours available differ spectacularly depending upon the region that you visit so there’s usually something for everyone. From perfectly cheesy pastas to gorgeous gelato, it’s no surprise that it should make our list. But which food are we showcasing today...can you guess?
Yep, pizza! We know it may not be the most exotic or complicated of dishes, but it made the list for one main reason: it’s a fun recipe to make with all the family. If lockdowns have taught us one thing it’s that relationships with family and friends are to be nurtured and treasured. And let’s face it, nothing says bonding like a great big bake-off!
Next on our agenda we are visiting Mexico, the birthplace of the small but mighty taco. Authentic Mexican tacos typically consist of stewed, fried or grilled meats, prepared overnight in a mouthwatering marinade made with cumin, oregano, paprika, lime, onions, and chilies. Tacos are great ‘hands on’ food which really helps to break up the humdrum of repetitive menus.
Do you like the idea of recreating your favourite street foods at home? So do we! That's why we co-created a dedicated do-it-yourself Street Food guide. It’s totally free, and once you’ve downloaded it is yours to keep. Just remember to share your pictures with us if you try a recipe!
Next stop, we’re off to South East Asia...
If there’s one dish that needs a mention here it’s the rice noodle soup, pho. In recent years, this warming Vietnamese broth has spread through foodie culture quicker than you can say second-helpings! And ‘pho’ the love of flavour, please do try this at home.
Traditionally, the broth takes hours and hours to refine, simmering to develop all those complex flavours that make the simple dish so good. However, if you're cooking at home, you can usually recreate the experience within an hour - including prep and cook time. We’ve not tried it yet, but using a slow cooker is supposed to be a great middleground!
Top tip: If you want extra authenticity, make sure to pronounce it ‘fuh’ just like a local.
While we’re talking noodle soup, let's fly north to Japan and reacquaint ourselves with ramen.
If your only experience of ramen was with a reduced rough-and-ready-meal, microwaved as a student, then it’s really time you revisited Japan’s national dish. Versatile and surprisingly filling, we give ramen a solid 10 out of 10 noms. At its heart, ramen is a rich meat broth, quite similar to pho, but typically flavoured with soy or miso and served with toppings such as mushrooms, seaweed, sesame seeds, spring onions and a signature soft-boiled egg.
It’s a great dish for introducing children to something a little further from home, to new flavours and new cultures, which can help them to build positive relationships with food for later life. It’s also an amazing winter warmer for cold evenings, and a superb option for meal preppers.
7. South Africa
Any escape to Cape Town wouldn’t be complete without a sneaky double-helping of bobotie. Another national dish for our world tour, South Africa’s big-hitting bobotie (pronounced BA-BOOR-TEA) consists of curried meat and fruit with a egg-based, creamy custard-like topping. If you’re finding that hard to imagine, it’s often described as being somewhere between moussaka, spanish omelette and a shepherd’s pie.
Bobotie is traditionally served alongside fragrant yellow rice with raisins, but is equally as delicious with a crusty roll. Some suggest serving it with chutney, pineapple, cucumber and cashew nuts, or even sliced banana. If you’re looking for something different to break up your mid-week menu, look no further than bobotie!
Seven dishes down, one to go...now, we’re out of Africa and heading to the home of La Española!
Oh dear, we seem to have a problem… You would think that choosing a Spanish dish would be simple for us, given La Española’s long Spanish heritage and our expertise in spanish cuisine, but the challenge is picking just one!
Yes, we’re sorry to disappoint, but we simply can’t choose - you’ll have to choose one for us!
We invite everyone who has joined us on this journey today to explore all our favourite recipes, designed to deliver a truly authentic taste of Spain. Once you’ve found your favourite, head over to our Facebook or Instagram (or both!) to let us know what you selected. Even better if you can share photos of your creations!
Here are some dishes to get you started…