Food is just exciting; it’s a reflection of who we are, where we come from, and how we live. Today you can find any existing dish in major cities, and it seems that you don’t have to travel far to try international cuisines.
Although many renditions of traditional dishes can be quite good, there’s nothing like eating food in its ancestral home. Here are 12 foods that are simply better in the place they were invented.
#12 – Tacos, Mexico
You can find tacos in any major city in the world, but few restaurants are doing them right. Although ubiquitous, you can only try the real deal in Mexico.
Hardshell tacos are not a thing in Mexico, and neither is adding sour cream to your tacos. There’s no such thing as taco seasoning, and authentic tacos have nothing to do with either fried food or fast food.
#11 – New York-Style Pizza, New York
Pizza is another very well-known item, and there’s virtually no place on earth where you can’t order a steaming pie. Although the authentic Neapolitan pizza has its merits, the New York-Style pizza and its toppings, including pepperoni, is the most imitated.
Authentic NYC pizzerias have been operating for decades and go back to the first Italian immigrants in the country, there’s knwoledge and tradition behind every pizza. Yet, everyone is trying to make a quick buck trough pizza, but they’re just not getting them right.
#10 – French Cheese, France
French cheese cannot be imitated and will remain uncontested for a few more years, the main reason — unpasteurized milk cheese. The French make delicious cheese like Roquefort and Brie with unpasteurized milk, and that’s part of their charm.
Many countries, including the U.S., have a ban in place for unpasteurized products. You can’t import French cheese or make your own unpasteurized versions. For this reason alone, the only way to know what French cheese taste like is visiting the country.
#9 – Sushi, Japan
Who doesn’t love sushi, am I right? As cute and colorful as your neighborhood sushi might look, it will never have authentic Japanese sushi quality.
Sushi masters in Japan train up to ten years to get right, even the simplest piece of sushi, and in some places, you can expect to pay top dollar for just a few bites.
The quality of the ingredients is unique too, there’s no better fish than what you can find in Japan. Fine dining restaurants from L.A. to New York, who won’t sacrifice quality, order their fish from Japan and absorb any associated cost just to work with the pristine fish caught on the Japanese shores.
#8 – Thai Food, Thailand
Thai food is incredibly complex, and although gaining popularity worldwide, the only way of enjoying the real thing is by going there. Thai food is in perfect balance between sweet, savory, bitter, and spicy, and you can expect all those flavors in every dish and every bite.
Most Thai dishes are cooked on street-food stands, which also adds to the food something your local Thai place just can’t: Humility and passion.
#7 – Hummus, Middle East
How hard can pounding chickpeas into a paste and drizzling it with olive oil can be? Well, it turns out making hummus is an art form. The supermarket stuff has nor the intensity or the texture of authentic Middle Eastern hummus.
You can find great renditions of the chickpea-licious dip in some restaurants, sure, but only because it’s made by native cooks with family recipes that go back for generations. For some, hummus is a simple side dish; the real thing is the main course.
#6 – Fish and Chips, U.K.
Not only the U.K., but Iceland and Norway make amazing fish and chips, and it’s hard to imitate elsewhere. For starters, fresh fish from the cold Northern Atlantic waters has a unique flavor profile and the perfect texture to be battered and fried, there’s no compromising quality.
The rest is experience and secret recipes for the perfect batter and the right frying oil temperature. It’s hard to describe, but there’s no fish and chips like the one you find in every corner of Northern European countries.
#5 – Lechon, Philippines
A particular type of pig is key to the fire-roasted suckling pig famous in the Philippines. Even if you wanted to make your own at home, you just can’t.
The roasting pit is rustic, and the soy-based seasonings used to bathe the pig for long hours make Lechon a time-worn, exhaustive preparation that makes the dish only available in the Asian Islands.
#4 – Pasta, Italy
We’re sure you make pasta more than once a week, it has been an international staple, but precisely because of the convenience we’ve built around the dish, it has lost its charm.
Authentic Italian pasta in Italy is handmade, the sauce too, and the olive oil, everything. All the ingredients from the wheat to the tomatoes might come from the same town, and that hyper-regionality is impossible to translate.
#3 – Lobster, Maine
Some places are just lucky, like Maine. Lobsters like the ones caught effortlessly on a daily basis are impossible to come by elsewhere. It’s not just luck, but the passion behind the best lobsters on the planet.
Recently caught and cooked to perfection in a community that lives for lobster. The size, color, and flavor are unique, but you have to see it to believe it.
#2 – Jerk Chicken, Jamaica
You might think that such a simple but incredibly flavorful dish can be made anywhere, but you’d be wrong. The Jamaican spices and the characteristic Jamaican feel that permeate authentic jerk chicken is unique to the Caribbean island.
It might be inexpensive, but the juiciness, the crisp skin, and the flavor take years to master.
#1 – Peking Duck, China
You’ll find an excellent rendition of the pecking duck in high-end restaurants from New York to Paris, but in China, this is not just a rare dish, it’s a religion.
Making a juicy but crispy Peking duck requires the utmost patience and wisdom passed from one generation to another to achieve a dish so close to perfection impossible to imitate without years of training. Pecking duck in China is a once in a lifetime experience.
You’ll have to Book A Trip Around the World.
No one can imitate the seasoning and technique of local food, no matter how famous or obscure a dish is. Food is often entwined with the culture and goes back for generations, no wonder why there are so poorly made international dishes everywhere.
If you want to try the real deal, and you should, you’ll have to visit, and that’s exciting because traveling is also about experiencing new things and trying exotic food.
What do you cook in your community that no one can imitate?