Best bites around the globe
We may not be able to travel to every country on Earth, but a great way to get a taste of a culture is to sample its signature dishes. Try cooking up a storm in your own kitchen or – when dining out is on the cards again – find a great restaurant and let your taste buds set sail on a culinary adventure across the globe. Here’s a selection of popular dishes you shouldn’t miss.
Beef Wellington, England, UK
A dish that’s fallen out of favour and then become popular again more times than we can count, beef Wellington’s origins are as unclear as its connection to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Traditionally, it’s a beef fillet steak, coated in pâté and mushroom duxelles (an extremely finely chopped mixture of mushrooms, shallots and herbs), wrapped in puff pastry, then baked. Its modern-day popularity is largely thanks to Gordon Ramsay who’s made it one of his signature dishes.
Onion soup, France
Very few dishes are as comforting as French onion soup – a blend of mellow, slowly cooked, caramelised onions in a broth laced with white wine and cognac. It’s thought that a version of the soup has existed since at least Roman times, but the modern version originated in 18th-century Paris. The soup is served in a ramekin, topped with a slice of baguette and cheese that’s then melted under a grill.
Peking duck, China
A dish cooked and eaten in Beijing since the Imperial era, today Peking duck is a Chinese restaurant favourite across the world. There are countless methods of preparing and cooking the duck, but originally it was roasted in a closed oven until the kitchens of the Qing Dynasty developed the open-oven style to cook several ducks at the same time. The duck is then served with steamed Chinese pancakes, cucumber, spring onion and sweet bean sauce.
Shakshuka, the Middle East
Claimed as one of their own throughout North Africa and the Middle East, untangling the web of where shakshuka is from is simply impossible. All we know is that it’s an incredibly tasty and filling dish that’s become a popular breakfast and brunch meal throughout the world. Literally translating as a mixture, it’s usually cooked by reducing down tomatoes, onions and a range of spices before the eggs are poached on top.
Clam chowder, USA
Creamy clam chowder is Massachusetts’ finest dish that’s prevalent throughout New England. Made with potatoes, crushed oyster crackers and chunks of local clam, it’s a flavourful and hearty dish to have all year long. The most famous place to eat it, Legal Sea Foods in Boston, began life as a market frequented by Julia Child and has been cooking up perfect chowder for decades.