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Five Culinary Destinations to Put on Your Bucket List

If you're a gourmand, then you already know that one of the best ways to experience a new culture is through its food and drink. From street food to haute cuisine, there's no shortage of delicious and unique dishes to try when traveling. In this blog, safetravelRX takes you on a global culinary adventure.

1. When it comes to Sushi, Japan is the epicenter of the world. That said, the delicious cuisine does not end there. Japan's food culture includes an enormous variety of dishes and flavors. Some of their most popular foods beyond Sushi include Ramen, Udon, Tempura, Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), Tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlets), Uni, and Soba Noodles. And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, you could try Fugu (Pufferfish); although a poisonous fish, it is considered a delicacy and is prepared by licensed chefs who have undergone extensive training. And finally, there is Shirako (Cod sperm), another delicacy which is the sperm sac of the male cod often served raw or lightly grilled.

Japan is also famous for using fresh, seasonal ingredients and emphasizing presentation and aesthetics. And remember to sample their wide varieties of sake, rice wine, beer, and whisky, which are gaining worldwide recognition, with brands like Yamazaki and Nikka winning awards for their high quality.

2. France is known for its wine and cheese; therefore, a tour of its wine bars and cheese shops is a must for any food lover. From Burgundy to Bordeaux, you'll taste some of France's best wines paired with various kinds of cheese. Be adventurous, and don’t just stick with Brie or Roquefort. Try specialties’ like Chevreton, a soft cheese made from goat's milk that has a tangy flavor, or Fourme d'Ambert, a mild blue cheese made from cow's milk that is aged in the Auvergne region of France. There is also Comté, a hard cheese that is aged for up to 36 months and has a nutty flavor, or Bleu des Causses, a blue cheese aged in the limestone caves of the Causse region and has a sharp, tangy flavor.

When you have had your fill of cheese and wine, try some other French delicacies such as Cuisses de Grenouille or frog legs, Sweetbreads, Bouillabaisse fish soup, Ratatouille, Andouillette, Tripes à la mode de Caen, and Boudin Noir, a type of blood sausage. As for beverages beyond wine and champagne, you have plenty of other choices like artisanal beers, ciders, and Pastis, which is an anise-flavored liqueur, or Calvados, a type of apple brandy made in the Normandy region of France. For a refreshing cocktail, try a Kir Royale, made with crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), raspberries, and champagne.

3. Turkey's cuisine is a beautiful combination of East meets West. Its street food is an excellent way to experience its culinary diversity, combining Turkish, Greek, and Middle Eastern flavors. Try other traditional dishes like lamb kebab and Kofta (meatballs) and more exotic options like stuffed mussels and Kokorec (grilled offal). And while many of their dishes tend to be meat driven, you can still enjoy their cuisine as a vegetarian with options such as Dolma (stuffed grape leaves), Artichoke Hearts, Barbunya (Pinto Beans) Shakshuka, and Fried Feta Rolls. For something on the sweeter side, try Börek (a savory pastry), Baklava, Turkish delight (a type of confectionery), and of course, their coffee, which is known for its rich flavor and strong caffeine kick. Make sure to sample some of their other beverages as well, such as Raki. a popular Turkish alcoholic drink that is similar to Ouzo in Greece or Arak in Lebanon. Turkey also produces numerous wines and beers.

4. You may think you already know Mexican cuisine with the proliferation of restaurants in the U.S. But the restaurants in the U.S. mainly serve Tex-Mex cuisine, which originates from Mexico but is adapted to American tastes. When you are actually in Mexico, you will notice one of the variations comes from the bold flavors they derive from chili peppers and the wide range of spices. Seafood is also an essential part of Mexican cuisine. There is a vast assortment, including shrimp, red snapper, tilapia, cod, tuna, and octopus, used in soups, stews, ceviche, tacos, and enchiladas.

Chile Con Carne is also a popular dish, but no trip would be complete without sampling the incredible variety of Moles. It's difficult to give an exact number of how many different types exist in Mexico, as the recipes can vary from region to region and even from family to family. However, some of the most well-known kinds of Mole include Mole Poblano, Mole Negro, Mole Coloradito, Mole Amarillo, Mole Verde, and Mole Almendrado. Mole poblano, which originated in the city of Puebla, is perhaps the most famous type of Mole. Its rich and complex sauce is made from over 20 ingredients, including chocolate, chili peppers, nuts, and spices. And they pair perfectly with one of the many types of beer or Tequila, one of Mexico's most famous exports. The most common Tequila types are Blanco or Silver, which are typically unaged or aged for less than two months in oak barrels. In addition, you have Reposado, Anejo, and Extra Anejo, the newest Tequila category, aged for at least three years in oak barrels with a dark color and more complex flavor profile.

5. Vietnamese food draws inspiration from various sources, including local ingredients and traditional cooking techniques, and influences from neighboring countries such as China, Cambodia, and Thailand. But Vietnam's colonization and trade with foreign powers have also influenced its cuisine. The French colonization of Vietnam introduced French culinary techniques and ingredients such as baguettes, pâté, and coffee. At the same time, Chinese and Indian traders brought spices and cooking methods still used in Vietnamese cuisine today.

Some of the most popular dishes in Vietnam include Pho, a famous Vietnamese noodle soup; Banh Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich made with a crispy French-style baguette and filled with various meats, vegetables, and sauces and Com Tam, a traditional Vietnamese dish made with broken rice, grilled pork, and vegetables. Another favorite soup is Hu Tieu, a noodle soup similar to Pho but made with a different type of noodle. And with Saigon's proximity to the coast, seafood is a popular part of the local cuisine served grilled, in a hotpot, or as a salad. Make sure to accompany your food with one of the many rice wines or beers made in Vietnam. And don't forget to try Vietnamese coffee, famous for its robust flavor, made with condensed milk and served hot or cold.

These are just a few examples of the many global food and drink destinations. So, whether you're a foodie or just looking for a unique way to experience a new culture, a culinary tour is a terrific way to understand the country's history and geographic influences.

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