One of the best things about living overseas is sampling the great foods on offer. Here’s our handy guide to some of the best foods that every expat should sample in their host country.
Phở (Noodle soup) in Hanoi
Phở (pronounced fuh) is Vietnam’s national soup. It was believed to have been invented in Hanoi in the 20th century as derision from a French soup, “pot au feu” (pot on fire). The rich phở broth is made using a beef or chicken stock base, which is flavored with a variety of spices, including ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Pieces of meat are then cooked in the broth before vegetables and noodles are added. The majority of Vietnamese people start their day with a bowl of phở as a breakfast dish but it is available throughout the day on the streets of Hanoi.
Fish and Chips in London
Fish and chips is a very popular take-out food in the United Kingdom. It consists of pieces of white fish, usually haddock, cod or plaice, fried in a batter and served with thickly cut chips. Locals traditionally sprinkle the cooked fish and chips with salt and malt vinegar and many opt to serve their fish and chips with a potion of mushy peas (marrowfat peas which are first soaked overnight in water and then simmered with a little sugar and salt until they form a thick green lumpy soup). For many people in the United Kingdom Friday night is associated with fish and chips, with this being a legacy from the Roman Catholic tradition of not eating meat on Fridays.
Hainanese Chicken in Singapore
Hainanese chicken is a dish of Chinese origin that has become hugely popular in Singapore, so much so, that it has become to be regarded by many as the national dish of this island state. The dish is made by boiling an entire chicken in a pork and chicken based stock. The stock itself is reused several times and topped up with water on a regular basis. Once cooked the chicken is served with rice.
Hainanese chicken can be found at hawker stall and food courts throughout the city and different variations of the dish are on offer, including roasted chicken instead of boiled chicken.
Hot Dogs in New York City
Hot dogs originally arrived in New York City via the European butchers who immigrated to the US in the 1800s. According to records German Charles Feltman was the first to sell hot dogs on the streets of New York but was usurped by his former employee Nathan Handwerker, who opened up a competitive hot dog pushcart and started to sell them at half the price of Feltmans. Today there is a hotdog cart to be seen on the corner of every street in New York.
Hot dogs consist of a sausage in a sliced bun. They can be served with fried onions, tomato ketchup, relishes, sauerkraut and mustard.
Pad Thai in Bangkok
Pad Thai is considered to be one of Thailand’s national dishes. It is an egg stir-fried noodle dish that is made with a combination of meats, vegetables and sauces including bean sprouts, peanuts, chicken, shrimp, chilies, fish sauce and other Thai ingredients.
The dish first became popular in Thailand during the 1930s and 1940s, when the world faced a rice shortage and the Thai people were encouraged to prepare food using rice noodles instead of rice in order to preserve their own rice supplies for export.
Dim Sum in Hong Kong
Dim sum literally translates “a bit of heart” and it consists of small dishes of Chinese cuisine, such as dumplings, savory buns and rice dishes. The Chinese partake in dim sum at breakfast or lunch times and it is always accompanied with a cup of Chinese tea. The majority of restaurants in Hong Kong operate by displaying the various dim sum on trolleys, with diners taking which dishes they want as the trolley passes. Diners are then charged for what they consume.
Dim sum is one of Hong Kong’s most famous pastimes and every expat should try it at least once; it’s as much about the experience and the atmosphere as it is about the food itself.
Tapas in Madrid
Tapas are small snacks or finger food that originate in Spain. The history of these small dishes is disputed. Some people claim that during his reign King Alfonso X insisted that all taverns served tapas with wine in order to prevent their patrons from getting too intoxicated. Others claim that the tradition was started when King Alfonso was served a sherry that was covered with a slice of meat in order to prevent dust from contaminating the drink. According to the legend the King liked it so much that he ordered another tapa or cover.
Today Tapas dishes are varied and they can consist of practically anything from a chunk of fish, a stuffed olive or a sun dried tomato through to piping hot meatballs or spicy sausage. They are served throughout the day in bars, restaurants and cafes throughout Spain, often as a free accompaniment to drinks.
El Asado or Parrillada in Buenos Aires
One of the most popular meals in Buenos Aires is the “el asado” or “parrillada”, a large plate of grilled meats fresh from the pampas. Traditional meats include sausages, steaks, small intestines, kidneys and blood sausage. The meats are cooked over a wood or charcoal fire and served with marinades, salads and potatoes.
There are restaurants throughout Buenos Aries that are dedicated to serving Parrilladas barbequed meats and chicken. Look for the “Tenedor Libre” (All You Can Eat) sign for high quality meats at a fixed price.
Curry in Mumbai
Curries are popular throughout the world, especially within the pan-Asian region. However, the indisputable home of curry is India and one of the best things about being an expat in the colorful city of Mumbai is that the curries served here are the best in the world. Curries in Mumbai are typically seafood curries that are cooked in a masala sauce and accompanied with a range of different spices.
If you were to ask Mumbaikars to suggest the best place to enjoy a true Mumbai curry then you are sure to be pointed in the direction of the street food stalls and, apparently, Bandra is the place to go.
Kimchi in Seoul
Kimchi, or gimchi, kimchee, or kim chee, as it is also known, is a traditional fermented Korean dish, that is made of vegetables with varied seasonings. It is one of the most popular foods in Korea and it is served with almost every meal. Each family has their own version of the Kimchi recipe and the Korean Food Academy has categorized over 100 different types of Kimchi dishes.
Expats living in Seoul will find that the kimchi on offer in the capital city consists of luxurious food and delicacies that contain both meats and seafoods.
Do you have a favorite local food in your host country? Drop us a line and tell us all about it, we’d love to hear what expats all over the world are eating.