While many tourists are content with simple sightseeing, authentic travel experiences are becoming increasingly popular. The exposure to new places and people is alluring, and travelers today have more options than ever. Research has shown that new age tourists are seeking cultural immersion when visiting another country or city, and according to a recent survey by Chase and Marriott, 70 percent of those surveyed consider eating local cuisine a top priority when traveling. Makes sense -- food is an expression of cultural identity. So, if you’re looking to try something new, read on for the best eats from 2018 travel hotspots. Who's hungry?
Brodet in Croatia
Home to over $1,200 islands, including trendy Hvar, Brač, and Šolta, Croatian cuisine is diverse and often influenced by its neighboring countries. However, one thing all the islands share is the Adriatic Sea. Whether you’ve chartered a yacht or rented a villa on the coast, if you find yourself in Croatia, be sure to try brodet. With tastes of Italy’s Marche region, this fish soup is full of fresh seafood — think whitefish, crab, shrimp, squid, and mussels — and is stewed slowly in tomato sauce. With vibrant flavors and crystal-clear water views, this culinary experience in Croatia will delight all of your senses.
Oil Down in Grenada
It’s not called the Spice Island for nothing. Grenada, a southeastern island in the Caribbean, is known for its year-round sunshine and luscious green hills — the perfect recipe for producing spices like nutmeg, saffron, and cloves. After relaxing on the sandy strand, walking the waterfalls, or exploring the underwater sculpture park, head in for a spicy supper. The national dish, known as the Oil Down, is a combination of salted meat, chicken, or fish, local dumplings, and fresh fruits and vegetables like green fig, dasheen, and callaloo, all of which is stewed down in coconut milk and spice. Cooked over an open fire, consider this a cultural experience you don’t want to miss.
Tangine in Morocco
Thanks to outdoor excursions, rooftop riads, music festivals, and a revived art movement, there’s endless opportunity for adventure in Morocco — and with plenty of streets eats, regional ingredients, and local flavors, your taste buds won’t bore either. While the food scene has a lot to offer, with traces of of Arabic, Berber, and European influence, it wouldn’t be a trip to Morocco without sampling at least one tangine from a street-side stall. Slow cooked in a clay pot, this dish is usually a blend of vegetables, spices, preserved lemon, and meats like chicken and lamb. It’s finished with fresh fruits like dates, prunes, and pears, so each bite is bursting with a festival of flavors.
Savulohi in Finland
According to the United Nations, Finland is the happiest place on earth, and with increased airlift, travelers are flocking to the tree-lined islands where they are met by a flourishing food scene. Finnish chefs take advantage of locally foraged flavors and the seas that surround them, priding themselves on fish served as fresh as it comes. So, whether you are there for the pristine wilderness or eclectic city life, don’t leave without trying traditional savulohi, wild salmon that’s smoked over an open campfire or in a smoking box.
Laap Naam Tok in Laos
Move over Thailand. Laos is shaping up to be Southeast Asia’s trendy travel destination. The landlocked country is drawing tourists thanks to its riverside hiking trails, Buddhist temples, elephant sanctuaries, and luxury camping spots. But if you plan a trip to Laos, prepare your palette — Laotian food has many distinguishing flavors, including its fermented fish sauce. The national dish, Laap, is a minced meat salad, and this version consists of medium-rare beef seasoned with spice, lime, green onion, garlic, salt, fish sauce, and so on. With a spicy, citrusy, and somewhat fishy flavor profile, this is a meal for an adventurous appetite.
Al Majboos in Abu Dhabi
You’re likely familiar with Dubai, which has become known as a glamorous playground for travelers. But did you know that just 65 miles south sits a smaller city in the United Arab Emirates budding with culture and charm? We’re talking groundbreaking architecture (it’s home of the tower with the greatest lean), new museums, white-domed mosques, and, yes, food. Abu Dhabi's recent rise in popularity, following its oil boom, has prompted a multi-cultural melting pot with everything from Korean to Russian to French cuisine. However, head down a side street and you’ll still find traditional and tasty Emirati cuisine. Be on the lookout for authentic Al Majboos, which is spiced meat boiled with dried limes and saffron rice.
Pizza in Argentina
One of the great wine regions of the world, Argentina is rolling with vineyards. When you aren’t sipping Malbec or regional Cabernet Franc, try an Argentinian pie. Taking inspiration from both Italian and Spanish migrants, cities like Buenos Aires and Mendoza are home to some of the best pizzerias – seriously! The high-rising, pan-cooked crust is light on tomato sauce, smothered in mozzarella cheese, and topped with simple ingredients like green olives, oregano, and dried chili flakes. Delicious!