Having been to more than 30 countries in search of the best-tasting foods, I've collected many amazing souvenirs—and a few terrible ones. I've learned some lessons about where to find take-home treasures—and what to avoid.
'Travel' on Serious Eats
You can wander the streets of Bangkok for weeks, pointing at every single thing that looks tasty, handing over a couple dozen baht, and eating until you burst, all without ever eating the same thing twice. And you'd have difficulty spending more than around $10 a day doing it. And, in fact, that's pretty much what my wife and I did for the few days we were there. Here's just a taste of what you'll get.
We ate our way from London to Paris to Zurich to Slovenia to Croatia to Serbia to Bulgaria to Istanbul. Here are the highlights from an epic train journey.
Modern Turkish cuisine has the slow-cooked meaty stews and hearty beans of Central Asian and Caucasian cuisine, the warm spices of Middle Eastern cuisine, and the ingredient-forward influence of the Mediterranean, all mixed up and combined with the refined technique of Ottoman and Western European kitchens. The result is a very food-centric culture with a dizzyingly wide range of ingredients, techniques, and flavors. And in Istanbul, you can get a LOT of it. Here are some of the best things I ate.
With the spring thaw on the horizon and road trip season approaching, we have some advice on how to maximize your beer vacation, from airport beers to brewery maps.
A friend and I found plane tickets on a whim, Chicago in February? Why not! We piled on scarves and thick socks, the heavy duty winter boots, our warmest coats, and off we went. Here are my 10 favorite bites.
When I first learned that there was an actual place called Pie Town, I had a definite idea of how it should look. My rather intricate vision involved streets paved with cookie crust, street lamps shaped like apples, and churches with meringue spires. What's the truth about this southern New Mexico town? We found out.
A cheat sheet to some of the best ways to survive in a hotel when you need a cup of coffee to even get yourself out the door.
You've just arrived to your hotel after a soul-sucking flight (or train trip, or car ride), and you're starving—it's late, room service isn't an option, and the vending machine down the hall promises nothing more than a sugar crash down the line. You roll over in bed in despair, when your eyes alight on curious salvation: a pizza button. On the phone. A button on the phone for pizza.
I spent the last month traveling around Japan and China with an Intrepid Travel guide/translator, taking pictures and filming video of the most delicious food, the amazing people, and the incredible sights for the newest season of The Perennial Plate. Watch this video postcard from Japan, a montage of the two weeks we spent eating and traveling around.
Even if you like to put your best foot forward on vacation and seek out the most delicious-tasting fare your destination has to offer (regardless of its ANDI score), it's worth making room for the foods that will keep you feeling healthy and energetic. Even if it's only to ensure you have space in your belly for those world-famous fried clams at dinner. Here are five of my favorite tips for fitting in fruits and veggies on vacation.
When we heard about this recent bologna bust in New Mexico, where agents seized 385 pounds of Mexican bologna after finding it in a pickup truck (it's illegal to bring pork products across the border), we started chatting in the office about food "smuggling." Everyone's shoved a few food souvenirs into their suitcase, and most of the time it's not as illegal as 385 pounds of bologna. Here are some items we've brought across borders. How about you? What are your favorite food souvenirs to tote home? (Need not be illegal...)
Yesterday we had a doughnut tasting at SE World Headquarters. On a Thursday, no less. The day before my weigh-in. Now I know full well that doughnuts are not on the path to weight loss, or even weight control. Doughnuts are one of the big holes in my weight control game. But what would you do if you were confronted by an entire conference table filled with doughnuts? Well, I know what I did. I tasted a bunch then left the room.
Thanksgiving means family and family means airport security lines! Many of us will be boarding flights in the next 48 hours, and if you don't pack PB&J in your carry-on, the trip could involve some mediocre food court grub. But there are a few decent chains hiding in those airport terminals. Here are 12 pretty tasty airport bites. Do you have a favorite snack while traveling?
Midsized American cities, campgrounds, your Sanka-loving grandparents' house—a lot of places are inhospitable to the discerning coffee lover. What to do when you're miles away from the great coffee you know and love? Here are some tips: like what to BYO, and what coffee nerds to tweet at for tips.
Airline food. The jokes usually write themselves. But after having flown Aer Lingus recently, I had to eat some of my nasty words — along with the tasty beef stew the Irish carrier served me. And, OMG, peep the photo here — Kerrygold butter is their standard butter packet. Quoth Erin Zimmer, "I eat every bite of my Aer Lingus meals whenever I visit family in Ireland." So my question for you today, SE'rs: Have you ever had a good airplane meal experience? Dish.
Insanity from our inbox: "I just came back from eating too much pizza in San Fran, and since I had a hotel room full of leftovers with no oven or microwave, I had to get more creative. I thought you would get a kick out of my desperate attempt at reheat my slice with a hair dryer."
Some people come home from vacations loaded down with clothes, or housewares, or other souvenirs. Me? I bring an extra suitcase for the food. Just back from a week in Argentina, I'm unpacking my stash: a few jars of dulce de leche, bags of mate tea, bon o bon candies, dulce de leche Oreos. Are you a food souvenir person? And what's the best thing you've ever brought back?
"But it's a harmless tub of peanut butter!" TSA says no. [Photograph: Robyn Lee] Just because it's the holiday season doesn't mean TSA will go easy on the liquid rule. Keep in mind that the following items will not survive the checkpoint for carry-on luggage: Cranberry sauce Cologne Creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.) Gift baskets with food items (like salsa, jams and salad dressings) Gravy Jams Jellies Lotions Maple syrup Oils and vinegars Salad dressing Salsa Sauces Snowglobes (not edible but important to note) Soups Wine, liquor and beer Note: You can bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, but please be advised that they are subject to additional screening....
"The menu fit in perfectly with my ideal of old-fashioned romantic trains." [Flickr: takaki] You know how you’re supposed to book your ticket in advance when vacationing? Way in advance? To pay less? I have a terrible confession—I wait. Well, I wait, on purpose, when I am traveling from London to Paris. [Other photographs: Kerry Saretsky] I wait, just long enough, because I play a game with myself. At a certain point on the Eurostar, the lowest fare tickets will soar in price but the leisure class stays the same, quite low in fact—only a couple of pounds more than the economy. That’s when I buy. Because, truth be told, of the food. I suppose being born in the 1980s...