Eat pretty much anything you can stuff into your face at the Djemaa el Fna in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Like a scene from Indiana Jones, the Djemma el Fna is a colorful entertainment-filled town square in Marrakesh. There are cobras, medicine men and storytellers, and the real fun always begins at dusk. Teams of hand-pulled carts are slowly wheeled into the square to form a maze of steaming, bubbling and smoking food stalls. Perhaps the original food trucks? Try not to sit at one of the many tourist-laden eateries and instead search around for where the locals are sitting. You’ll be well received and you’ll get traditional fare like boiled sheep’s head, stuffed intestines and coal roasted brains, all of which taste better than they sound. Make sure you get an oily bowl of the cooking broth to dip your bread in as the sound of the snake charmers Pungis fill the night.
Get some Pad Thai noodles on Khao San Road, Thailand.
Is it the best Pad Thai you’ll ever have? Probably not, but the Khao San Road acts as the perfect restaurant setting for this simple street food and elevates it to one of the greatest food and ambiance combinations out there. Grab a cold Tiger beer from one of the equally cold A/C-chilled 7-11s and sit on the curb with your Steaming $2 Noodles. Top it with the traditional dried micro shrimp and crushed peanuts and take in the backpacker and expat fueled craziness that surrounds you. And it’s worth it to splash out the extra 50 cents for an egg.
Have some fish & chips in Hastings, England.
I’m actually from the fishing town of Hastings, so I might be a bit biased here, but nevertheless. There are countless chippies selling this traditional coastal fare but head to the old town and you will be surrounded by fishing history and a deep seeded passion for all things fried from the ocean. The largest working wooden fishing fleet in the UK lands right on the cobble beach and the catch is delivered merely meters away from the many fishmongers and chip shops. Order a large crispy cod and chips, dowse it with some salt and malt vinegar and dig in with the little wooden fork they give you…just watch out for the seagulls.
Make a fool of yourself and say Smørrebrød! in Denmark.
This is an extremely hard item to pronounce but extremely easy to love. Smørrebrød literally means “buttered bread” and it’s the best open face sandwich you’ll ever have. It’s a piece of buttered rye topped with a never ending display of ingredients. It can be as simple as a working man’s lunch, usually with pâté or sliced meat, to a visual explosions found proudly on display at a sidewalk specialty shop. Heaps of toppings adorn these works of art from pickled herring, sharp horseradish cream, and mounds of fresh fjord shrimp, Fish or meat frikadeller (meatballs), to pigs fat, crispy onions and pressed pork belly. No matter which one you choose, be sure have a dish of the traditional remoulade sauce at hand and of course, an ice cold Tuborg.
Get your massive pancake fill with the Murtabak in Malaysia.
Believed to be middle Eastern in origin, this giant stuffed pancake dominates in Malaysia. Forget the thin crepe-like ones and go for the double handheld version. The first time I saw this I thought it looked like a giant British crumpet until the seller lathered it with chocolate, bananas and crushed nuts, folded it in half and gave me a 6 inch thick steaming sandwich of deliciousness. If sweets are not your thing, no worries — stuff the beast with ground meats, mixed spices and fresh herbs, plunge that bad boy into a bowl of spicy curry sauce and enjoy.
Try to solve the question Castelnaudary …or is it Toulouse? …by eating Cassoulet in France.
We all know that France has a deep history when it comes to top notch nosh and of course the ability to claim a dish as their own. No matter the controversy of who the hell owns this amazing stew or which town it originated from, all you need to know is it is DELICIOUS. A bubbling pot filled with a slow-cooked concoction of beans, duck confit (duck legs cooked in fat), sausage and vegetables. Forego the giant glass jars in the supermarkets and find a side street bistro. (I recommend Le Colombier.) Order a carafe or two of the local vin de table made from the popular Négrette grape and prepare for an event, not just a dinner.
Bury a pig and meet some friends with ukuleles in Hawaii.
OK, first of let me set the scene: a pit is dug large and deep enough to house a pig, fire is set in the hole, rocks are added and then layers of banana leaves followed by a seasoned pig. All of this is buried under a layer or burlap sack and sand for many hours. I mean, come on. The result is the traditional Kālua pig: a smoky, sticky, fork tender porker. Now pair this with the experience of enjoying it under the North Pacific stars with the welcoming nature of the local Hawaiian community, a crisp glass of Lilikoi Champagne (champers and Passion Juice) and some swaying palms and I dare you to find a more complete experience.
Go for some roast goat with the Maasai in Kenya.
The Maasai herd cattle across the vast plains of Kenya — their “mobile bank account” as they call it — so every celebration they have is usually centered around the roasting of goat or cow. You can guarantee that the goat was slaughtered that day and simply cooked over burning Acacia wood without any fancy marinades.
All pictures by Ray Wyatt