This time of year, who doesn't dream about picking up and moving somewhere new, exciting, different, and most of all, just not here. Maybe you're fantasizing about that for other reasons right about now.... So herewith, a few other countries worth looking into, if awesome food is high on your list. Note: We've left out lots of other countries with exceptional cuisines, so this is just a start:
There's nothing like the bustling, crack-of-dawn fish auction at Tokyo's Tsukiji seafood market in Tokyo to lift you out of an early-morning stupor. The sushi served inside the market itself and all over Tokyo, and Japan, is as ocean-fresh as you can get, and the varieties of seafood make for sushi that's often unlike any sushi you've ever had anywhere. Not to mention Tokyo's always-happening food scene, with restaurants specializing in everything from ramen to yakitori to tempura to single-ingredient menus (from mushrooms to uni). Beyond Tokyo, Kyoto's exquisite kaiseki restaurants will soothe your sool with their spectacular, meditative feasts. Oh, and did we mention the ramen?
Even with superstar Danish chef Rene Redzepi's famed Noma closing on New Year's Eve this year, Denmark and surrounding Scandinavian countries continue to turn out some of the most groundbreaking cuisine happening anywhere in the world, thanks to the New Nordic chefs' penchant for foraging the landscape and combining local ingredients in jawdropping new ways. Plus, the Danes love coffee, and you'll be needing some extra-strong doses as you navigate the culinary scene.
El Celler de Can Roca in Girona (a first-place winner and mainstay of the World's 50 Best Restaurants list) is only the beginning. From the molecular gastronomy movement that chef Ferran Adria helped kick off, to more classic local specialties like Valencia's paellas, Madrid's tapas, San Sebastian's pintxos, and Barcelona's seafood, Spanish food rocks.
As if there weren't already enough reasons to travel (or move!) to Italy—and just think of all the prosciutto and Parmigiano and wine you can smuggle back—now you might be tempted to go just for a meal at chef Massimo Bottura's (pictured below) Osteria Francescana. Plus, from Italy it's just a short flight to France, and the food there isn't too shabby.
A country once roundly mocked for its cuisine now has one of the most happening food scenes in the world, from the innovative chefs in London to the groundbreaking restaurants outside the city, from Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck in Bray to Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in Oxfordshire. And when it comes to historic votes that make pundits go WTF, the English can relate.
Speaking of historic votes, Colombia recently had an upset of its own. But the country's richly flavorful foods surely helped soothe rattled nerves, from local specialties like plates of bandeja de paisa—laden with beans, plantains, rice and meat— to arepas (pictured below) to the inventive, elegant Colombian restaurants from Bogota to Cartagena and beyond.
Speaking of rattled nerves, Lebanon specializes in those—and also in mindblowingly good food: fragrant lamb stews, kibbe, freshly grilled seafood along the coast, mezze staples like hummus and tabbouleh (pictured below) and kibbeh, and much more. The food was enough to bring Anthony Bourdain backfor a second visit, after he was evacuated from Beirut during the summer 2006 war.
The country's richly varied regional cuisines rarely make it to the States—and get nowhere near the international props of, say, tacos—although with ambitious openings like renowned Mexico City chef Enrique Olvera's new Cosme in New York City, that's slowly changing. Still, there's no better place to discover the luscious nuances of Mexican cuisine than Mexico. There's no wall yet, so go now.
India has much more going on, cuisine-wise, than the North Indian-style curries and Southern-style dosas that make it to Indian restaurants overseas. From Delhi to Mumbai to Goa and beyond, every region in India has its own unforgettable dishes. And if you're into turmeric lately, this is your place.
You haven't had pho until you've had the local version of the beefy, herb-tinged soup in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. And while Vietnam's cities are full of elegant restaurants showcasing the country's spicy, salty, sweet, pungent cuisines, there are arguably as many fabulous street-food stalls serving delicious banh mi, pork-stuffed roll cakes, and all manner of noodles and shellfish as there are mopeds crowding the streets.
From the ceviches of Cusco (pictured below) to the strong pisco sours, to arroz con pata (rice with duck) and skewers of juicy grilled beef-heart anticuchos, you'll be extremely well-fed in this stunning country, whether you base yourself in the Andes, in a city like Lima or Cusco or, or along the coast.
The country has seen its share of political turmoil of late, but one thing that never changes is the fact that the food in Thailand ranks among the best in the world, from the coconut curries of southern Thailand to the papaya salads and fish-sauce-spiked dishes of the Isaan region. And the famous pad Thai? The local version is unlike any you've ever had outside Thailand.
Known for its kebabs and its influential Ottoman cuisine, Turkey is a food-lover's paradise for its specialties both classic and new, and no food adventure there is complete without dinner at Ciya, the ingenious chef Musa Dagdaviren's Istanbul stronghold.
Dash around from Shanghai (for its addictive xiao long bao soup dumplings, pictured below) to the Sichuan region (for its spicy dishes and magical Sichuan peppers) to Beijing (for its famous roast duck restaurants and noodle shops and stands serving local specialties like the delicious lamb and mutton dishes of the Chinese Muslim Hui community), and that's just the beginning. Tempted to move to China? Eat your way around the country first, before you settle on the regional cuisine you're ready to commit to for the foreseeable future.
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