Whether you are traveling within the United States or going abroad, one of the joys of leaving home is tasting the local cuisine of your destination. So if you are planning on studying abroad or just going on a family vacation, here are some mouth-watering recommendations from students to guide your palate.
EJ Brotons, a junior double-majoring in Chinese and French.
The best thing I ever ate was in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, China. Sichuan and the adjacent province, Hunan Province, are known for their spicy food. Most street restaurants in Chengdu are what we would describe in America as “holes in a wall.” The places look like open storefronts with no doors and tables set up in front of an open kitchen. From experience, the cheaper and less fancy the place, the more authentic and rich the spices were. The more expensive restaurants in Chengdu tend to cater to softer pallets.
My absolute favorite dish was called “Erzi Laji,” meaning spicy baby chicken. Words cannot express how rich the spiciness was. The dish was made up of chicken meat, peppers, a handful of peppercorns, a serving of cabbage and a bowl of rice. Sichuan peppercorns are very spicy; every time I ate one, my sinuses would open up. But the serving of cabbage was a little spicy and generally served to cool down your mouth from the peppers. And, of course, rice was a necessity at any proper Chinese meal.
Justin Cohen, a senior majoring in bioengineering.
I can’t decide on the best dish, so I’m going to have to go with my top three, which were in Spain, Italy and Hawaii.
In general, I’d say that Spain has the best food and a pretty good variety. The dish that really sticks out in my head is a seafood paella that I ate with my roommate on the beach in Malaga. I don’t know how to describe it other than delicious. Also, Spanish tapas bars are a great way to try a wide assortment of Spanish cuisine for not a whole lot of money.
Another one of my favorites was on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. The dish consisted of a fresh ball of mozzarella, prosciutto and berries. I also don’t know what to say about that either, other than it was amazing. The restaurant was also in a beautiful location on an island in the middle of the lake overlooking the Swiss Alps.
Last, but not least, on my list of top three meals ever was at a restaurant called La Mariana, in Honolulu, Hawaii. The dish was a fresh Ahi Poke, which is a type of tuna. It was served raw and seasoned over a bed of tomatoes and onions, and garnished with scallions. It was delicious. Hawaii has great seafood everywhere, for obvious reasons, and seafood happens to be my personal favorite.
Gabby Fixman, a junior majoring in economics.
There are a few special foods that are unique to Curacao, a Caribbean island. These are more traditional dishes that you would typically find in locally run restaurants, which have very low-key atmospheres and open storefronts because the weather is so nice and warm.
I would say my favorites are pastechis, which is a type of pastry made of dough filled with cheese, meat or tuna, and then fried. It’s like an empanada, and is typically served as a snack at parties. Another thing is called funchi, which is fried polenta, served typically as a side dish. And a meal would be stoba, which is a dish made of chunks of meat served in bread. It’s really flavorful and tasty.
Raina Fishkin, a sophomore majoring in Judaic studies.
The best thing I ever ate was called Poikeh, at my friend’s kibbutz in Israel, but it’s a well-known dish among Israeli scouts. It’s kind of like a stew and it consists of carrots, lentils, soda, potatoes, onion, meat and chicken broth. It’s cooked in a Crock-Pot for many, many hours so that when you eat it the contents are very delicate and soft, but rustic and meaty. The flavor is a perfect combination of sweet and savory.