Hot chocolate surrounded by churros.
Hot chocolate surrounded by churros.

The Best Comfort Food From Around The World

Travel the World, One Comfort Meal at a Time.


By Mary Luz Mejia | Published on July 4, 2022


How does planning a trip entirely around the delicious food of the region sound? Amazing, right? The ultimate foodie vacation involves sampling some of the best comfort food from around the world, in situ. There's nothing like dipping a freshly fried churro into a molten cup of thick hot chocolate in Seville to make your taste buds happy. Eat your way through Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Mexico and beyond in search of the best places to travel for food. Don't forget to pack your appetite!

1. Dig Into Some Frites, Not Fries

Comfort food from around the world doesn't get any better than fries! You may know them as humble French fries, but this deep-fried potato sensation was actually created in Belgium. Walk around any Belgian city or town, and you'll find Belgian frites — or friets as they're also called there — sold out of stalls, shacks, and even high-end restaurants. Mistakenly named "French fries" by U.S. servicemen when they arrived in Belgium at the end of WWII, the Belgian version is always twice-fried in lard or beef fat until golden and crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Sprinkled with salt and served in paper cones with a dollop of mayonnaise, this is the country's most iconic, savory snack. Don't expect plain ketchup, as the Belgians prefer curry mayo, truffle mayo, or a mix of mayo with tomato paste, peppers and pickles for a delicious Andalouse sauce.

2. Lick Up A Local Scoop

If you love a good scoop, make a beeline to Luka Ice Cream & Cakes in Split, Croatia. Since 2014, their narrow shop just behind the Croatian National Theatre has been serving homemade, from-scratch sladoled (ice cream) using locally grown and produced products, including milk, herbs, and fruits. There's almost always a line outside the parlor (even in cooler weather!) since it's a local favorite as well as a tourist must-try. Flavors change daily, but if you're lucky, try to snag a scoop of yogurt ice cream with forest berries, or cheesecake and fruit-swirled ice cream. These creamy, dreamy, fresh concoctions are sure to hit the spot.

3. Try Oaxaca's Spin On Pizza

Oaxaca is one of the best places to travel for food and their tlayuda (pronounced tla-yoo-da) is a great reason to go. Made with a big, griddle-toasted corn tortilla (called a tlayuda), this simple dish is served open-faced, topped with "asiento" (pork lard — you can order one without if you're vegetarian, although this dish benefits from the salty kick), refried beans, and melted ribbons of Oaxacan quesillo or cheese. This usually gets shredded lettuce, tomatoes and a side of charcoal-grilled beef strips (tasajo), pork strips (cecina) or Mexican chorizo (sausages) as further toppings. Wherever you go in Oaxaca, this giant pizza-like creation is worth sampling. Make sure you have lots of napkins on hand!

4. Sweet Vs Savory: The Churro

Is there anything cozier than a warm churro and a cup of hot chocolate? Often enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack in Spain, these deep-fried, ridged dough coils have a nebulous history. Did they originate in China? Or are they a Spanish invention that spread to the Americas in the 1500s? Any way you fry it, these are plain, almost savory, deep-fried coils of stiff pastry, cut before serving and sweetened by getting tossed in sugar and cinnamon before being served hot with a coffee or hot chocolate. Either way, dip, crunch and enjoy this age-old, delicious traditional dessert.

5. Indulge in traditional Dutch apple pie  

Although apple pie is considered an American dessert, its earliest mentions date back to 1514 in a Dutch recipe book. In Holland today, it's called "appeltaart" (the lattice pie topped version) or "appelkruimel" (the crumb topped variety) and always consists of a buttery, crumb-like base and resembles a cake more than it does a flaky pie pastry. It's filled with tart, firm apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. In Amsterdam, I enjoyed a slice topped with a heaping spoonful of freshly whipped cream and an aromatic coffee that warmed my soul on a blustery spring day. It was a bite of history and comfort all in one.

6. Dig Into Creamy Nut-Enhanced Chocolate

You might know it as Nutella, but long before this hazelnut chocolate spread became one of the most popular foods in the world, this northern Italian specialty was created out of necessity. In the late 1800s, chocolate maker Paul Caffarel cut expensive Venezuelan cacao with the plentiful, locally grown Piemontese hazelnut out of economic necessity and called it gianduia. Today, in Turin, Guido Castagna makes some of the very best hazelnut chocolate spread (truffles and bars) that has won international chocolate awards and adorning fans the world over. Try his individually wrapped, much-lauded Giuinott or "7 grams of cocoa and hazelnuts sweetness" as he calls these truffle-like wonders that are based on a 150-year-old Italian tradition done the Castagna way.

Sink your teeth into the world's best comfort dishes on the Ultimate World Cruise.

 

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