Most countries have at least one dish they celebrate as being completely representative of their cuisine and there are some fabulous national dishes of the world that travelers should always aim to try. It’s not always true that a dish synonymous with one country tastes better in its homeland or place of origin, but more often than not, it’s part of an experience that adds an extra touch. Here are some great national dishes of the world and some suggestions of where best to try them.
1. Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, England
Notably one of the most famous national dishes of the world, alongside fish and chips, is England’s roast beef and Yorkshire puddings. This dish is frequently served as a Sunday-lunch meal, and remains a national favorite. You usually ask if you want your beef well-done, medium, medium rare, or rare. Eat this with the eponymously named Yorkshire puddings, with potatoes, vegetables and lashings of gravy.
Recommended: Best eaten in someone’s home or a pub on a Sunday. There’s nothing like homemade Yorkshire Pudding and beef that has been sat under a hot lamp for hours is not so great.
2. Irish Stew, Ireland
A great stew that warms you right through during winter. Thick and stock full of ingredients, this traditional dish of Ireland traditionally contains potatoes, carrots, mutton (but lamb is more widely-used these days) and parsley. People flock to Irish pubs for this hearty and filling meal.
Recommended: Avoca, Suffolk Street in Dublin
3. Pot-au-Feu, France
Arguments will rage across the country as to which are the national dishes of France. This is one of its traditional family dinners. Translated as ‘pot in the fire,’ it’s a hearty and rustic dish. Traditionally, it was continuously stewed all winter and topped up whenever necessary. Similarly to an Irish Stew, this is cooked with steak, root vegetables and various spices. However, unlike the stew, the broth is usually served separately from the meat.
Recommended: Le Pot au Feu, 59 Boulevard Pasteur, Paris
4. Goulash, Hungary
As much fun to eat as it is to say, goulash is a symbol of Hungary’s national identity. This is packed full of filling ingredients: slow-cooked beef shin, red onions and vegetables. It is also flavored with paprika and is best served with a large dollop of soured cream.
Recommended: Blue Rose Restaurant or any other decent restaurant in Budapest
5. Wiener Schnitzel, Austria
Schnitzel is famously flat breaded pork and is the favorite national dish of Austria (closely followed by some sumptuous Sachertorte). Made from the finest and freshest ingredients, Schnitzel can be pork and chicken, but the deluxe version is made out of veal and best eaten in Vienna – hence the name Wiener Schnitzel. It is best served simply, with a side salad and parsley and lemon garnish, but don’t be surprised when your schnitzel arrives and it is the size of the whole dinner plate.
Recommended: For tradition - Zwölf Apostelkeller; for a favorite tourist haunt – Figlmüller; or for quiet reverence - Restauration Zur Goldenen Glocke
6. Bulgogi, Korea
Bulgogi is extremely ‘fiery’ beef. As you probably know, Koreans love their spicy food. Bulgogi is thinly sliced, marinated in things like soy sauce, garlic and wine, and then grilled. Interestingly, this national dish of Korea is often cooked by diners in restaurants. Customers are provided with an extremely hot plate embedded in their table and they can cook their meat how they like. The beef is then usually eaten wrapped up in lettuce or spinach, with kimchi.
Recommended: The Byeokje Galbi chain, Seoul
7. Ackee and Saltfish, Jamaica
This Jamaican national dish has rather painful origins. It was customarily known as slave food, but the Jamaicans have reclaimed it as part of their national cuisine. Ackee is a very nutritious fruit that has a buttery and slightly nutty flavor. For this dish it is boiled, which turns its appearance akin to scrambled egg. After it’s boiled, it is then sautéed with salt-cured cod, onion and tomatoes. To finish off this vibrant meal, deep fried cassava cakes (bammy) and plantains make it recognizably Jamaican.
Recommended: Jake’s, Treasure Beach
8. Kibbeh, Lebanon or Syria
This extremely tasty ‘tapas’ style croquette is made out of minced onion and red meat, typically beef, goat or lamb. It is the key aspect to mezes (appetizers), and is cooked in a delightful torpedo shape or as a patty. It is usually eaten baked, boiled or stuffed.
Recommended: Aleppans, northern Syria. This restaurant is considered the innovator of kibbeh, and they flavor it with pomegranate or cherry juice.
9. Coo-Coo and Flying Fish, Barbados
Coo-coo is… not a bird. It is, instead, a porridge made out of cornmeal and okra. Thick and gooey, this dish is fantastic with flying fish. The fish is steamed with lime, vegetables and seasoned with spices. Alternatively, fry it with a spicy sauce.
Recommended: Waterfront Café, Bridgetown
10. Hamburgers, USA
Who doesn’t know that hamburgers are the national dish of America? It’s often hard to find the perfect hamburger. With numerous hamburger restaurants and chains, customers are spoilt for choice. Not only that, but there are countless variations of toppings for this dynamic American favorite; from bacon and onion rings to avocado and beetroot.
Recommended: Louis’ Lunch, New Haven. Considered the oldest hamburger restaurant in the USA.
If you live in any of these countries where we can sample these wonderful national dishes of the world, please let us know your choices of place to eat them– first-hand experience and recommendation is always best.