The world is filled with savoury delicacies, and the best part about traveling is sampling all the wonderful food on offer, yet all too often hungry travelers prefer to stick with what they know. McDonald’s and Subway are located in nearly every country on earth. Do you really want the same fare you eat all the time back home? Cheeseburgers and pizza and fried chicken can be found everywhere, but what about trying something different?
You can be brave and try a chocolate-covered grasshopper in Hong Kong or a slice of pure gelatinous lard in Poland, but let’s be realistic: when you’re hungry, you want food that not only tastes good but makes you feel good too. While swinging into the local Pizza Hut will heal the ache in your stomach, it’s not doing your travel experience any favors. Instead of going for the cheeseburger or the exotic fried bat, try a local delicacy instead! From the spicy riches of Asia to the sweet treats of Europe, there is a delicacy waiting for you to try no matter where you are.
According to Merriam-Webster, the word “delicacy” is defined as “Something pleasing to eat that is considered rare or luxurious”. When you’re traveling, what is considered rare or luxurious in one country may be commonplace in another, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have its own local twist, and what pleases you may not please me, but for the people who live in these countries, the following 20 foods and drinks are considered delicacies that are offered as special treats. If you find yourself in any of these places, you simply must try the rare and luxurious items below!
20 Red Curry Soup (Thailand)
Thailand is famous for its signature Pad Thai, but for a more luxurious dish, sample a genuine red curry soup. The curry gets its color from the small but tangy red chilies that are mixed in, and while they are spicy, you’ll still be able to enjoy all the flavors of the soup.
The flavors come in magical waves, from spicy to sweet to sour. It’s weird and delicious!
Red curry soup is mixed with coconut milk, mango, veggies and chicken or beef. The flavors are complex and in some magical way, one spoonful will have a dozen different flavors that come in waves.
19 Fish Tacos (California)
You’ve heard of tacos, and you’ve heard of fish, so why not mix the two together? San Diego is the self-proclaimed home of fish tacos, but this prized food can be found all up and down the coast.
The fish taco is to San Diego what the cheesesteak sandwich is to Philadelphia.
Savor fish tacos with breaded sole or, for an even more luxurious treat, try a grilled salmon taco topped with veggies and guacamole. Fish tacos can be spicy or tangy, crispy or creamy, and the best part about this delicacy is you can order them from food trucks on the side of the street!
18 Manapua (Hawaii)
Chinese immigrants have been settling in Hawaii for centuries, and their influence has fuzed with traditional Hawaiian culture in a delicious way in the form of Manapua: a sweet Chinese-style dumpling stuffed with Hawaiian-style flavors. Pork, chicken and sweet potato mix with sweet pineapple to give your mouth a doughy burst of flavor.
Manapua began in China as Char Siu Bao (“bao” means “steamed bun”), but it was the Hawai’i who perfected the recipe by adding yummy tropical island fruits and increasing the size of the bun by using yeast and baking soda to leaven the dough.
17 Kvass (Ukraine)
Ukraine may be famous for pierogies and cabbage rolls, but one local delicacy a lot of travelers pass by is Kvass. This honey-mead is made using recipes that date back to the medieval ages.
Kvass is best served fresh and chilled. Avoid the plastic bottles in the supermarket.
There is nothing more refreshing on a hot Ukrainian summer day than sitting in a shady park and sipping on a cup of fresh, fizzy kvass. It’s sweet and you can taste the honey, yet it’s carbonated and has definite beer undertones (without the alcohol). Get your kvass right from a cart on the side of the street!
16 Knafeh (Dubai)
Originating in Palestine, this sweet, sticky, cheesy cake is a favorite among UAE citizens and a must-have for any visitor to Dubai. Coated in a crispy crust of thin dried noodles and stuffed with cheese soaked in sweet syrup, this dish is served hot as a dessert. When you bite a forkful, the crust crumbles while the cheese is gooey and wonderfully messy, making Knafeh one of the best dishes in the Arab world.
There are variations to Knafeh (sometimes called Kanafeh) but most travelers in Dubai will agree that this pricey cake is worth every dirham.
15 Spatzle (Germany)
Spatzle are Germany’s best-kept secret. Chewy free-form egg noodles usually covered in cheese and often mixed with veggies make for a delicious delicacy in the southern regions of Germany and parts of Austria. Spatzle is different from other noodles because they stay moist and soft. This means they can’t be rolled out and instead are free to form as each noodle wishes!
In Bavaria, Spatzle are made using beer instead of water.
You won’t find spatzle in many places outside of southern Germany, so if you’re in the area make sure you sample one of the tastiest treats on this list!
14 Blini (Russia)
Russians love to savor the delicate textures and tastes of blini. These Russian-style crepes are made with either kefir or buttermilk and are pan-fried one-by-one. Then they are stuffed with any variety of toppings: berries and whipped cream, ham and cheese, even ground beef and onion!
Blini is also a swear word in Russian. You'll hear Russians yell "Blin!" after stubbing their toe or missing the bus.
Most restaurants in Russia serve blini, and depending on where you’re dining they can be cheap or ridiculously expensive (looking at you, Moscow), but either way you’re sure to love Russia’s contribution to this list!
13 Ice Wine (Ontario)
Ontario is famous for its Niagara Peninsula vineyards, but what travelers to Ontario are surprised to find is a deliciously sweet drink called Ice Wine. This thick, rich, sweet wine is served chilled and in small thin glasses, usually as part of a dessert, and despite its 10% alcohol content it tastes like liquid candy in a glass.
Icewine is made by harvesting the grapes just after the first frost of the season has set in. This affects the sugar levels in the grapes, which creates the unique sweetness of this drink. Be warned, in true delicacy fashion ice wine can get pricey!
12 Satay (Indonesia)
Meat. Spice. Skewer. Smokey charcoal. Indonesia’s most beloved food is also the best delicacy you can find in this huge and diverse country. Beef or chicken (or even sometimes fish) is rubbed with a tangy spice and then skewered on a wooden stick, where it’s placed over extra-smokey charcoal. The smoke infuses into the meat making it a barbecue-lovers dream meal.
Satay outside out Indonesia just isn't the same.
Satay is found everywhere in Indonesia but it’s considered a delicacy here because, for true savory satay, you need to go to Indonesia. The stuff you get in other countries just doesn’t do it justice!
11 Melon and Ham (Italy)
Simple yet amazingly refreshing, melon and ham are the perfect snack to enjoy while you sit on a patio in Italy and watch the Vespas zoom by. It’s exactly what it sounds like: pieces of melon wrapped in thin slices of ham served chilled. The ham is usually something special to the local region, and the further north you go in Italy, the juicier the melons get.
Melon and ham is usually consumed with a hot coffee in true Italian style.
While anybody could really make this at home, Italian Trattorias add the type of presentation that only Euros can buy.
10 Stroopwaffel (Netherlands)
A trip to the Netherlands should consist of more than just tulips, windmills and “cafes”. Make sure you try real Dutch Stroopwafel, which are delicious wafers with thick honey sandwiched between them.
You can buy packs of manufactured Stroopwafel at any Dutch store, but the real stuff is made to order and is the size of your hand. Warm, gooey honey oozes out all over your plate so be sure to ask for wet naps (“doekjes”) with your order.
This Dutch delicacy goes great with a Heineken or after a lengthy bicycle ride around Amsterdam’s many canals. Be sure to try it with some whipped cream on top!
9 Key Lime Pie (Florida)
The Florida keys have given the world so much: flamingos, Ernest Hemingway, dolphins, baseball stars and delicious, tart key lime pie! This savory delicacy can be found in any mid-range or upscale Florida restaurant. Made with lime juice using limes sourced from the Keys, condensed milk and egg yolks on a graham crust, key lime pie is a tropical and refreshing dessert to enjoy while sitting next to the crystal blue waters of southern Florida.
Be sure to buy an entire pie at most diners and enjoy it back at the hotel!
Key lime pie is sometimes served with a meringue topping, which just makes it better in my opinion!
8 Pork Pies (England)
It is rumored that the Queen herself eats a pork pie every day, but you don’t need to be royalty to enjoy this uniquely British delicacy. Made with ground pork, salts and spices stuffed inside a golden-brown pie shell, it is served chilled. Each pie is rather large and you don’t need a fork to eat them; just start biting in.
Pork pies, like real British sausage rolls, are difficult to find outside of England but if you’re in foggy London or the jolly old midlands, be sure to nip into any bakery and grab a pork pie or two. You won’t be disappointed!
7 Kimchi (Korea)
Korea’s spicy staple is found everywhere. Cabbage is fermented in a spicy red pepper sauce for months at a time. It is served with every meal or eaten as a snack or even for breakfast!
Kimchi is recognized by the UN as one of the healthiest foods on the planet with unique cancer-fighting properties.
Kimchi is usually served chilled but you can also find it fried into kimchi pancakes, boiled in kimchi soup, or stuffed inside kimchi dumplings! You don’t need to be in Korea to try it: the kimchi you can buy at any Asian supermarket is pretty decent.
6 Nanaimo Bars (British Columbia)
Canada’s west coast has a secret: one of the most delicious treats you’ll ever eat comes from here! 3 layers of chocolate ganache, buttery-custard, and coconut-chocolate wafer make even the sternest food critic’s mouth water. Named after the city of Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, these bars are served at room temperature.
Nanaimo bars are pure sugar and will definitely ruin your diet.
You can find Nanaimo Bars anywhere in Canada, but the best are located in British Columbia. Expect to be served a massive five or six-inch thick slab of deliciousness and don’t make any dinner plans too soon after eating it!
5 Shabu Shabu (Japan)
Shabu Shabu is not simply a dish: it is a process. Thin slices of raw meat are dipped into boiling soup, where they cook instantly. Thick juicy Udon noodles are snagged from the soup with quick chopsticks and slurped down loudly. Veggies are added to the boiling broth for a quick snack. Afterward, rice is dumped into the pot to soak up the soup and then eaten as dessert!
Shabu Shabu originated with the Mongol armies. Mongolian warriors cooked their soup in their helmets, and the tradition was picked up by the Japanese and turned in to an elaborate ceremony in true Japanese style!
4 Grape Leaves (Greece)
Greek grape leaves are one of the most delicious delicacies of the Mediterranean. Leaves from a grapevine are boiled and stuffed with pine nuts, rice, dates, lemon juice, and vegetable broth to create an amazing variety of flavors with each bite.
Grape leaves are usually served cold and rubbed with olive oil.
It is thought that the recipe originated in ancient Egypt and was adopted by the Greeks, where it’s remained a delicacy ever since. If you’re visiting Greece, be sure to order a platter of grape leaves to go with a nice square of feta cheese.
3 Gougere (France)
France is famous for its bread and its cheese, so it makes sense that the two would be mashed into one delicious delicacy called Gougere. These little buns are stuffed with cheese and served warm, so every bite deposits a little explosion of melted heaven into your mouth. Often made with gruyere cheese, the choux dough is mixed with cheese and baked until it is flaky on the outside and soft and moist on the inside.
You can find Gougeres in the Burgundy region of France, where they originate, and in true French fashion, they’re best paired with a nice red wine!
2 Granita (Sicily)
On a hot Sicilian afternoon, there is nothing more refreshing than sipping on a frozen Granita Siciliana. Dubbed “the original smoothie”, Granita is a delicious frozen drink made from water, sugar, and fruits all mashed together and whipped up into a soft, drinkable slushie.
Sicily has the best fruit in the world, and Granita Siciliana is the perfect way to sample that!
The difference between your run-of-the-mill American smoothie and a Granita is the pure fruit flavors. Granita is icy yet refreshing, sweet and rich and full of 100% fruit. Travelers to Sicily won’t be disappointed sampling this amazing local delicacy!
1 Pavlova (Australia)
It’s no accident that Pavlova is the number one delicacy travelers must try on this list. Australia’s delicious cake is simply the greatest thing any human can eat. Made with meringue, topped with whipped cream and covered in fresh Australian fruits, Pav, as it is colloquially known in Australia, is delicious.
The dessert is named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920’s, it is served during national holidays and special occasions in both countries, but you don’t need to wait for ANZAC Day to enjoy a slice of heaven. Pav is served at many restaurants and cake shops, so dig in!