6 Best Cuisines in the World

I fucking love food. I love everything about it. Eating it, cooking it, smelling it, even just talking about it! I like to think you can tell a lot about a person by their taste in food (so I usually judge people on their favorite cheese). And one of the best (and my favorite) parts about traveling is eating the local cuisine. In fact, I think it’s foolish to eat anything other than traditional dishes when traveling. Remember the corn pizza? Exactly my point.

I may be (am) partial to Asian food. I believe my soul is actually that of an overweight Japanese man. That’s because I ate half my body weight in sushi at a buffet once and daydream about when I’ll be able to do it again. Also because of my love for soup. Sushi and soup aside, I love all food so I’d like to share my top 6 favorites! At time of writing I’ll have had been to 25 countries and I’m limiting this list to places I’ve been. I’m going go Italy in 2 weeks so I reckon this list will need updating afterwards!
With that, here’s my list! (Side note: this post is not vegan nor gluten free. And all pics are my own)

6. Polish
Polish food might be the most underrated food on the planet. It’s so good that I’m actually going to Poland again this year just to have more. I first became acquainted with Polish food growing up. My father’s ancestors were Polish, thus my last name being Pawelkoski, so about once a month pierogis and kielbasa were on the dinner menu.  As all things in America, we like to Americanize things. But surprisingly, the food was very similar to what my dad had been serving us all along.

I went to Krakow, Poland this year for my birthday with two friends. Having learned my lesson about not researching before traveling, I’m always aware that the best (and less expensive) restaurants are located further out from the touristy bits of any city. So we had found a little place called Restauracja PPP located just outside the main square.

HO-LEE SHIT. The food was out of this world. I ordered the traditional sour soup – bialy barszcz (because I fucking love soup) and pierogis. If you don’t know what pierogis are, just think of dumplings filled with meat, potatoes or mushrooms. My mouth actually had an orgasm. We ended up eating there again during our trip and made friends with the waitresses who informed us that all the food was made from scratch by an older Polish gentleman. We were in Baltic food heaven.

Since then, I’ve found our local Polish supermarket and have made us Polish dinner just like Dad used to make.

5. Romanian
Romania may be the first place I ever booked that wasn’t hunger motivated. Before going to Romania, I never even thought about what Romanian food could be like. I did do a little research though and got some recommendations from one of my Instagram followers on where to go for authentic food. So I was off to a good start.

Within the first 10 minutes of being Bucharest we went to a place called Caru’ u Bere, which was probably about as traditional Romanian as you can get (at least I think is was)! As we waited for our table (the place was packed – so you know it’ll be good) we got to watch dancers do a traditional Romanian dance. The best way to describe this would be Polka mixed with Riverdance. But it was still cool to watch.
We were starved at this point so ordered a fuck ton of food.

A mixed starter and 2 mains. I think part of the reason I liked Romanian food so much is it is on par with America for portion sizes. A lot of stuff is meat and polenta but they have a traditional soup (remember, I love soup) that’s made with tripe (stomach). This was pretty good tasting but not sure I’d try it again.
As yummy as this sort of food was, my boyfriend and I left Romania desperate for a salad and a smoothie.

4. American
Ahhh, American food. Yes, I’m also partial to American food because it’s comfort but also because it’s just damn good. If you don’t love fried chicken, you don’t love life. My boyfriend argues that America doesn’t have its own traditional cuisine, but corn dogs and Philly cheesesteaks beg to differ. We also take the cake on portion sizes.
I could go on for days about stories of American cuisine so to save time I’ll just tell you the best bits.

Steak. And large cuts of it. Prime rib in particular, which is fatty thus full of flavor.

Macaroni and cheese. Cheese and pasta, what’s not to love?

Philly cheesesteaks. Steak and cheese on bread. Enough said. (hehe that rhymed)

Fried fucking chicken. Tender, juicy and so damn satisfying.

3. Thai
Hmmm Thai food. One of the greatest Asian fares. I first fell in love with Thai food in 2009 when I went to Thailand for Christmas with some friends from Korea. We loved the food so much that we would chant ‘S.R.P.T.’ when drunk because that’s the only thing we ate for 10 days (btw, that stands for ‘spring rolls, pad thai’). But that was just the tip of the ice berg.
I got back to Korea from that trip and needed more. I couldn’t get enough S.R.P.T. but I wanted to try any and all Thai foods. We found a very authentic Thai place in Seoul in which we went to every Sunday for about 3 months. I’m not even exaggerating. It got to a point where we got free dessert every time. I tried curries, soups and other noodle dishes. Each dish satisfying not only my hangover but my soul as well.
I went back to Thailand last summer and ate everything in sight. Pad thai, tom yum, curries and the best food discovery I’ve ever made: mango and sticky rice.
In Thailand there’s also a lot of street food, including pancakes topped with either savory or sweet toppings. I loved banana and Nutella ones so much that I drunkenly tried to convince a vendor it was ‘Free Pancake Day’ in an effort to get free ones (it was the end of our trip and I had no money left). He nearly called the police.
Needless to say the best place for Thai food is Thailand, but many restaurants serve some pretty decent chow.

2. Vietnamese
Oh dear, I’m getting excited just thinking about Vietnamese food! 2009 was a big food year for me. I actually discovered the top 3 cuisines on this list that year. I accidentally wondered into a Vietnamese restaurant in Seoul during my first week there. I was exploring a nearby neighborhood and stumbled upon a place called ‘Good Morning Vietnam’. The place was full of people who looked like they were enjoying some sort of soup (have I mentioned I love soup?), which was all it took to convince me to go in.

Luckily the restaurant had English descriptions of the menu items because I had no clue what pho was. It seemed to be some sort of noodle soup. Yea, I’ll have that. About 4 minutes later a bowl the size of a small swimming pool arrived full of noodles and beef. It was accompanied by a plate full of herbs and bean sprouts. There were also different types of sauces to add to flavor your broth. That was probably the first time I had experienced a mouthgasm. I was hooked. I went to GMV once a week from then on, sometimes twice. It was that fucking good.

I finally ticked Vietnam off my bucket list last summer. Pho was the only Vietnamese dish I had tried up until this point but I had heard about these sandwiches called Bánh mì which I was stoked to try.  Bánh mì is basically a Vietnamese sandwich with a sub roll, meat or tofu and Asian veggies/herbs. Massive apologies for not having a photo. But take my word, they are to die for!
Turns out pho is actually a breakfast food (soup for breakfast? Hell yes!). So we weirdly didn’t eat as much as I had hoped. But we did enjoy the Bánh mì and hotpots on the street.
I must go back to eat more.

1. Korean
And finally, my favorite type of food. Korean. Ohhh Korean. What isn’t there to love about Korean food? Not much. If you’ve read some of my Teaching English in Seoul posts, you’ll know I knew ZERO about Korean food before moving to Korea in 2009 (which will go down in history as the ‘Year of Food’). And even when I first moved there, I didn’t try too much of it. Mostly because I had no idea to what try. But I was still really excited to see what the restaurants were cooking.
I met up with my sorority sister, Genine, for some traditional Korean fare a bit after my arrival. She took me to a galbi restaurant. Galbi, which actually translates to ‘rib’, is the slang term for Korean BBQ. A traditional Korean BBQ consists of plates of meat accompanied by veggies, sticky rice, and soup (the way to my heart is through soup).

You grill the meat on a hot plate in front of you and then put it with some veggies, sauce and rice then wrap it in a little lettuce wrap. Or at least that’s how we ate it. Needless to say we found a local in which we nicknamed ‘Roy and Kath’s’ after the couple who owned it, and were there every Friday. I eventually discovered an all you can eat Korean BBQ and it was all over from there.

When most people think of Korean food, they think of kimchi. And it is the national food. It’s always served as a side dish but is prepared in many different ways. In a pancake (kimchijeon), in a stew (kimchi jjigae), in dumplings (kimchi mandu) as well as fried rice and ramen. Kimchi is basically cabbage covered in spices and left to ferment. Sounds gross, but it’s actually really good. I buy it from the Korean grocer and snack on it all the time.
A small piece of advice for anyone who is looking to try Korean food. Do not try anything claiming to be ‘Korean fusion’ or anything claiming to be Korean and located in East London. This is not Korean and you will get a burger with some fancy bullshit kimchi on it which was probably made from the hipster vegan deli next door. It’s not what you want. Look for authentic places with an ajumma (older Korean woman) standing in the kitchen shouting in Korean at the other workers. This is where you’ll get proper Korean food.

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