Foods to try: our top eats by destination

August 19, 2021

Part of the fun of landing in a new place is answering the question: what are you going to eat next? We’re here to get your mouth watering with a suggested bite (or beverage!) to seek out in locales like the Arabian desert, the geothermal landscapes of Iceland or while hanging with the marine creatures on the Galápagos Islands. Would you go for a salted spud or pull up to a corn beer bar? We’re excited for your taste buds already so here’s our handy snacking list:

Papas arrugadas (wrinkly potatoes)

Where: Canary Islands in Spain

Is there anything the humble potato can’t do? On the island of Tenerife, Canarian chefs turn small papas into tasty tapas by boiling them in sea salt water before roasting. The skins wrinkle up and crust over from the salt. All that’s left to do is slather them in mojo sauce, the unofficial condiment of the Canary Islands that comes in green (coriander and parsley) or red (red pepper and garlic). You’ll be tempted to recreate the dish at home but part of the magic comes from the flavour of the island’s taters grown in rich volcanic soil.

Our tour suggestion: Hiking the Canary Islands: Tenerife, Anaga, and Beyond

hiking canary islands
you'll be ready to pop a few *papas* after hiking in Tenerife

Zarb (underground Bedouin barbecue)

Where: Wadi Rum in Jordan

Imagine spending the day 4x4ing over the Arabian desert sands of Wadi Rum, and returning to sleep under the stars in a Bedouin camp. It's nothing less than magical and we bet you’ll be famished. Thanks to the legendary hospitality of your hosts, a traditional zarb awaits. Cooked underground in earth ovens, it's a meal akin to barbecue that slowly cooks meat and veggies for hours. The centuries-old technique protected the nomadic people’s meals from predators and vermin while they were out tending their herds. What’s even better? It continues to be delicious and is served with all kinds of yummy regional sides.

Our tour suggestion: Egypt & Jordan Adventure

bedouin camp fire
sleep under the stars after a tasty sandpit-baked meal at a Bedouin camp

Chicha de jora (corn beer)

Where: Cusco and the Sacred Valley in Peru

Let’s face it — if you’re hiking the Inca Trail, you’re going to work up a thirst. You’re in luck as one of the world’s oldest beverages awaits at roadside stands and local chicherias (corn beer bars) throughout the region. Just look for a red flag tied to a pole that indicates the ancient beverage is served inside! Dating back to the Inca Empire, Chica de Jora is a low alcohol brew made from the husky goodness of, you guessed it, fermented yellow corn. Potent at altitude, it was once consumed in sacred Inca rituals and remains a festive beverage for Peruvian people and visitors alike.

Our tour suggestion: Amazon to the Andes

peruvian corn
this ancient staple is at the heart of Peruvian cuisine... including beer!

Encebollado (fish stew with pickled onions)

Where: Coastal Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands

Given the sheer amount of marine life to gawk at in the Galápagos, it’s easy to see how the local cuisine gets overlooked. But it’s that same bounty of the sea that puts all kinds of fresh fish dishes with Ecuadorian flair on the table. Citrusy ceviche full of shrimp, squid, crab, octopus and island lobster is a given but encebollado is also a local favourite. The sea-based soup topped with pickled onion is known as a hangover cure and usually features tuna and yucca. It’ll likely be served with plantain chips so you can scoop up every last bite.

Our tour suggestion: Galápagos Multisport with Quito

pickled ceviche
try the freshest seafood made into ceviche and pickled fish stews

Geyser bread (geothermal-baked rye bread)

Where: Under the steamy grounds of Iceland

Who doesn’t love just having fresh bread and butter for dinner? True to their resourceful nature, the Icelandic people figured out how to harness geothermal energy to bake tasty loaves underground. Dough gets poured into round pots or casks and then buried in hot earth to steam bake for 24 hours. The end result is a dark and dense rye bread that pairs nicely with the aforementioned butter, smoked salmon or smoked lamb. Not your jam? Well, Iceland is also famous for another easy dinner. Hot dogs! Known locally as pylsa, you can grab one just about anywhere including stands and gas stations. Delish!

Our tour suggestion: Iceland Northern Lights & Golden Circle — Plus

icelandic hotdogs
top your dog with everything including sweet brown mustard and remoulade

Zaalouk (cooked eggplant and tomato salad)

Where: All over Morocco

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention tagine or mint tea as Moroccan must-haves, but there are so many other good things to taste. Called a salad but more like a dip for crusty bread, zaalouk combines aubergines and tomatoes with paprika, cumin and coriander. One special place to try this dish (or others like it) is at AFER homlunch in the rural village of M’Haya. Local women prepare and serve up an authentic meal and use the proceeds to train and support women and children in the area.

Our tour suggestion: Highlights of Morocco

homlunch meal
support rural women and enjoy a tasty lunch including pastries

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