From hot dogs to hoppers: around the world in food


From hot dogs in New York to egg hoppers in Sri Lanka, food plays a big part in any travel experience, and is one of the things that defines a country, its people and its culture – and often forms some of our favourite and most enduring holiday memories. We pick our top ten foodie experiences around the world.

Pintxos in Spain

Tapas has become popular the world over, and for good reason. A Spanish version of tapas is pintxos – its name means ‘spike’ or ‘skewer’, and they are usually served this way, pierced with a skewer on a piece of bread. There are endless meat, fish and vegetarian varieties: a classic is the gilda, featuring anchovy with pickled green peppers, while others include ham and sausage, salmon and egg, and Spanish omelette. Go bar hopping to sample as many of them as possible, and enjoy them with a chilled glass of fizz.

Hot dogs in the USA

Hot dog stands can be found all over the USA and it can be hard to pass by and ignore the tempting smell. A must on any visit to New York is a stroll around Central Park, flanked by the city’s distinctive towering skyscrapers, which provides welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the streets. Pick up a hot dog, topped with onions and mustard, from one of the ubiquitous stands in the park – or a giant pretzel, if you prefer – and take a breather as you enjoy the setting, which has played its part in many a movie.

Arepas in Colombia

In between discovering colourful colonial cities, pretty squares, Caribbean beaches and the lush green zona cafetera, which is home to some of the best coffee in the world, make sure you try an arepa. These delicious snacks are made with cornmeal and are part of the daily diet for many Colombians. Generously stuffed with cheese or meat and vegetables, they are simply addictive and are the perfect pick-me-up, especially washed down with a cold beer.

Egg hoppers in Sri Lanka

There’s so much to do and see in Sri Lanka, from wildlife to beaches and natural and religious wonders everywhere you go, that you’ll need to refuel – and there are few better ways to do that than with an egg hopper. These bowl-shaped pancakes are made with rice flour and coconut milk, with an egg cracked in the bottom. A typical breakfast staple, but enjoyed at any time of day, they can be stuffed with anything from fresh coconut to cheese, curd, grated vegetables and curry, and are popular for good reason – one is never enough.

Saltfish fritters in the Caribbean

Unsurprisingly, fresh fish is abundant across the Caribbean, and each island has its own favourites. After a day spent lazing on a postcard-perfect beach, try the saltfish fritters, which are fried with herbs and peppers and are full of flavour. Eat them with tostones, a Caribbean answer to crisps, made with plantain and salted and deep-fried. For those with a sweet tooth, the banana fritters are a must and can also be found all over the Caribbean.

Biltong in South Africa

South Africa is renowned for its food and drink, as well as its iconic Big Five wildlife safaris and spectacular landscapes and coastlines. While you’re taking it all in, try the biltong, a tasty and very popular dried meat snack. There are numerous alternatives, such as ostrich, but the original version is made with beef, sliced and flavoured with black pepper and coriander.

Steamed dumplings in China

It’s hard to walk down a street in China without seeing steamed dumplings being cooked in vast bamboo steamers, sending plumes of fragrant smoke in the air. They are served both as a savoury snack, with meat and vegetable fillings, and as a sweet dessert, with fillings such as red bean paste, custard and sugary sesame seeds. Dumplings are ideal for sating your appetite in between seeing the sights – and you’ll keep going back for more.

Tostadas in Mexico

Tostadas – crispy, salted tortillas topped with ceviche and avocado, or succulent pork – are a real street food favourite in Mexico. We recommend devouring them alongside elotes – these skewers of whole corn on the cob served on a stick and smeared with cream, mayonnaise and chilli are simply irresistible. They are well worth taking a break for while discovering historic cities, Mayan gems and stunning beaches.

Merguez sausages in Morocco

Morocco is known for hearty, wholesome dishes such as fragrant tagines, but its street food packs a punch too. Try a delicious Merguez sausage, stuffed into a freshly-baked khobz (flatbread) and dipped into a spicy tomato salsa-style sauce. Another street food staple here is grilled or deep-fried sardines, served with a chermoula relish with parsley and paprika. Perfect fuel before heading back into the souks to grab another bargain.

Kachori in India

India is renowned for its sheer variety of tasty street food snacks. One that is especially popular in Rajasthan, including at festivals, and has regional variations all over India, is kachori. This crispy, spicy vegetarian speciality is filled with lentils and chutney, while sweet versions feature ghee, dried fruit and nuts. Take a break from the larger-than-life sights with one of these.

Thomas Ryves is Marketing Director at Exsus Travel. Exsus Travel specialises in creating the very best luxury tailor-made holidays, honeymoons and family adventures in over 80 destinations worldwide.

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Comments (16)

  1. Nick Dougill says:

    We’ve come along way since Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s classic book “Around the world in 80 Days” just wanted to beat the clock. Nowadays we’re looking for a gourmet experience as we eat our way from continent to continent. We want to get all the world’s tastes too.

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Hi Nick,

      We certainly have come a long way (!) – and there are so many delicious foods to try all over the world, with something for everyone.

  2. Claire Smith says:

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time and Morocco and even done an afternoon’s Cookery Course but I’ve never heard of the Merguez sausages. Definitely one to try next time I visit.

  3. Nick says:

    You got me going on the idea of a World Food A to Z featuring some of my favourite dishes. Don’t know how far through the alphabet I’ll get as my train pulls into the station in 12 minutes time!

    Albondingas – Spanish meatballs
    Baklava – Greek dessert
    Croissants (preferably almond)
    Dashi – Japanese soup
    Eggs Benedict ( Sunday morning Manhattan brunch
    Fajitas – sizzling and spices Mexican great
    Guacamole – obviously – to go the fajitas
    Halloumi cheese – perfect when grilled
    Iceberg lettuce – for cool crisp salads
    Kippers – the English Gentleman’s breakfast
    Lasagne – an Italian pasta classic
    Momos- Indian dumplings

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Hi Nick, what a great list! We’re even hungrier now…

    • Paul Johnson says:

      A few to add to your list, Nick…!

      Nachos (Mexico)

      Ohmi-gyu beef (Japan)

      Paneer (India)
      Poutine (Canada)
      Patatas bravas (Spain)
      Paella (Spain)
      Pizza (Italy)
      Peking duck (China)
      Pierogi (Poland)
      Popcorn (USA)

      Quesadilla (Mexico)

      Rendang (Indonesia)

      Som tam (Thailand), Sushi (Japan)

      Over to someone else… I don’t fancy X!

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Wow that’s an impressive selection for the P’s!

      X is indeed a tricky one – but apparently Xigua is a type of melon – that’s a refreshing snack in hot weather…

    • Caz says:

      X is definitely a tricky one. There’s also Xavier steak, but it’s a bit of a cheat because I don’t know if or where it’s popular. Steak, asparagus and Swiss cheese melted on top. Or another cheat – Xmas Pudding, popular in the UK!

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      That’s clever to find two options for X (!)

    • Craig says:

      My problem is that I get stuck on some letters. I’ve got too many S favourites – salami, sushi, spaghetti, stroganoff, San Francisco style sour dough bread.

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Some more great ones Craig – big fans of sourdough bread, it makes a pretty good sandwich!

  4. Carolyn says:

    So hot dogs have gone global you can probably get a hot dog in most countries of the world. Are any of these other goods going to achieve international fame and become global superstars?

    Chinese steamed dumplings are spreading the word about Chinese cuisine nicely.

    Though my money’s on Pintxos. The fact is that with all the thousands of Tapas bars around the world they’ve got the base to expand from.

    Being on a skewer they are clean and easy to eat. Plus there’s something for everybody, you can go meat, fish, vegan or a mixture of both. Then you can pick your marinade. I just think that Pintxos are going to be the next big thing.

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      The advantage of these is yes they are quick and simple and easy to eat – so great for when you are on your travels and on the move. And yes, with lots of possible fillings, it’s easy to find something you like. We agree that pintxos are great and could be the next big global food trend!

  5. Caz says:

    I’ve learned something new here as I’d never heard of pintxos before. How do you pronounce it, is it a silent ‘x’? I had a hotdog when I went to America to work for a few weeks and I can honestly say it was the best hotdog I’ve ever had!

    An old school friend of mine went to China to live for a couple of years with her partner and she was always putting photos of food on social media. Dumplings were a regular feature on her Facebook ! I’ve never actually had them though, so I’d be interested in giving them a try.

    Let’s not forget the great UK – Sunday roasts and the classic, unbeatable bacon sarnie!

    • Thomas Ryves says:

      Hi Caz,

      Yes it’s a silent x, pronounced more like a ‘ch’.

      America certainly does good hotdogs – and dumplings in China also come highly recommended. As for the UK, yes to all of those and of course fish and chips as well!

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