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Around the World in Seven Dishes

Oct/15/2023 / by Bindu Gopal Rao

Explore places on your plate

Bowl of Vietnamese soup pho with noodles, beef, and condiments with chopsticks
Photo via Shutterstock

October 16 is World Food Day and we list seven must-have foods from around the world.  These dishes have come to be identified with their region’s flavors, traditions, and culinary history.

So if you love food, here is a list of dishes to try, and where you can savor them.

Pho, Vietnam

Pho or beef noodle soup is Vietnam’s most famous dish and is often eaten as a staple breakfast dish in the country. Lining the streets of the cities, pho is made with soft rice noodles, sliced meat, boiling broth, and is topped with chopped herbs and chives. You can customize your pho with lemon, slices of red chili, basil, and hoisin sauce. You can choose to have it with the beef cut of your choice (rare, flank, tendon, meatballs, tripe).

Try it at Superior Pho, Cleveland, Ohio.

Paella, Spain

Paella is a popular one pot meal in Spain. It includes Spanish round rice, Spanish saffron and a combination of vegetables, chicken, and seafood. The dish traces its roots to the region of Valencia and is typically made in the traditional large two-handled pan. The dish makes use of ingredients like Spanish sofrito that has green or red peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes. It may also have beans like ferraura, garrofo, and tavella and the best thing of this dish is socarra, the crispy crust at the bottom of the dish.

Try it at Barsa, South Carolina.

Apfelstrudel, Austria

Considered to be one of the national dishes of Austria, Apfelstrudel or Austrian apple strudel is a classic dessert that has a swirling shape of thin layers of dough wrapped around a filling. The authentic way to make it is by hand stretching the dough which also creates its many layers if it is stretched paper thin. This is then rolled with a filling of apples and raisins. Served as an afternoon snack with coffee, it is also popular in Germany and Hungary.

Try it at Kafe Leopold, Washington, D.C.

Pad Thai, Thailand

A quintessential dish from Thailand that you can most easily identify with the South East Asian nation is pad thai. A much-loved noodle dish, pad thai is made with thin, flat rice noodles that are stir fried with a sweet-savory-sour sauce, crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, garlic chives, scrambled egg, firm tofu and usually chicken, prawns, or shrimp. Tamarind pulp adds a punch to the dish and you can add other ingredients to make your own version.

Try it at US Thai Cafe Edgewater, Colorado

Kebab, Turkey

Kebab is cooked on a skewer over a grill. It most likely comes from the Sumerian word kabuba which means “to char”. The dish is usually made with lamb, mutton, or beef. Popular variants include like the çöp şiş kebab made on wooden skewers, urfa kebab made with ground beef or lamb, and iskender kebab made with sliced döner kebab spread on bread and covered with spiced tomato sauce, butter, and yogurt.

Try it at Zeytin Turkish Restaurant, Ada, Michigan

Biryani, India

This flavorsome dish is a combination of rice, vegetables and meat and a plethora of spices and garnishes and is India’s most ordered dish online. It is generally believed that the dish originated in Persia and came to India through the Mughals. There are a variety of variants that include hyderabadi, lucknowi, awadhi, thalassery, bhatkali, ambur, beary and sindhi, among others. A one pot dish, biryani is usually served with accompaniments like raita and salan.

Try it at Biriyani Kabob House, Los Angeles

Pavlova, New Zealand and Australia

A dessert that both Australia and New Zealand stake claim to is pavlova, named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina. It has a crisp outer shell and soft center and made with white meringue, whipped cream, and fresh fruit. Usually served during holidays such as Christmas, this dessert needs skill to prepare as the eggs must not be over beaten and the sugar must be added gradually to get the perfect texture.

Try it at Berry Sweet Pavlovas, Florida