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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Reed

Food and travel: my highlights

I wrote the following article for National World's Travel Guide.

When I consider my favourite adventures, food and drink has always been a pivotal part of the experience. I believe that to truly taste a destination, it’s important to literally taste it.

Pairing delicious cuisine or drink with awe-inspiring travel experiences enhances a trip in such a glorious way; whether it be sipping a local Greek wine while a bright orange sunset illuminates the sky in Corfu, or devouring fresh oysters pulled from underneath a boathouse in Sweden.

I fondly remember being introduced to caipirinha cocktails at a BBQ party near the Brazil side of the stunning Iguazu Falls; a divine (slightly dangerous) combination of cachaça (sugarcane hard liquor), sugar and lime. I’d joined a tour group that journeyed from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro and the group was a brilliant bunch. We laughed non-stop. I also met my future husband that night (he was part of the group) and I have no doubt the caipirinhas played a part in that union.

A year later, my future husband and I travelled to the beautiful Greek island of Naxos and I still dream of the purest honey drizzled across Greek yoghurt; the tastiest Greek salads that I kept trying and failing to recreate back home in London; the mouth-watering fish croquettes that we ate by the water.

It would be a crime to write about unforgettable food destinations and not mention Japan. I travelled there solo and it’s the perfect place to eat - what is arguably some of the best cuisine in the world - alone.

The dining scene there embraces solo diners like nowhere else; with single-seater booths and counter sections set up for lone diners to indulge in a feast of mouth-watering sushi, ramen and more.

It’s a confidence builder to explore the world on your own. Including to sit down in a restaurant on your own. In a popular ramen spot in Kyoto, I had to order my dish on a screen and sit down to await it being presented through a flap in the wall. It was utterly delicious and I remember appreciating the moment so much that I took a photo of my food (rare, as I despise seeing photos of people’s food on social media).

The freshest seafood has been a big highlight of my travels, too. I used to manage PR and social media for West Sweden tourist board and I was lucky enough to be taken on some amazing food journeys there.

Lobster safaris where you went out to sea with a lobster fisherman, hauled up your catch and took it back to land to drop into a boiling pot of water for dinner. There were mussel safaris and we caught fresh oysters, too. All of it was seriously tasty and I’ve struggled to find seafood on the same level since. What’s glorious is that all of it was consumed against a backdrop of natural beauty; a wild coastline peppered with thousands of small islands. It felt remote. I felt calm. Life appeared to go at a slower pace.

I’m a big fan of fika too, the Swedish ritual of pausing for coffee-and-cake. Swedish coffee is usually very strong, which I appreciate. It’s rare to be served a bad cup of a Swedish coffee.

I could go on naming highlight foodie destinations. The chocolate in Brussels, the beef noodle soup in Taiwan, the beignets (deep fried pastries) in New Orleans, the hot dogs in Chicago. The jerk chicken shacks in Jamaica, the pastel de nata (egg custard tart) in Portugal, white chocolate ice-cream in Florence at a festival dedicated to ice-cream, the fish and chips in Sydney where the batter is so light and crisp and almost melts in your mouth.

Has anywhere disappointed me food wise during my travels? I found Wiener Schnitzels in Austria a tad overrated… the chocolate torte there bland (sorry Austria). And where next on my food adventures? I’d like to eat authentic Mexican food in Mexico (I’ve only ever been to touristy Cancun). Oh, and eat my way around more of Japan!

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