In our incredibly vast and diverse world, there’s one thing that stands out as the most universal language: food. An easy but educational way to connect with any culture, people will travel all over the world just to get a taste of a country’s signature dish. From roadside street vendors to Michelin-starred restaurants, there’s a whole world of flavour to discover at the most unlikeliest of places. Join us as we go on a global gourmet tour, exploring five of the most popular signature dishes various countries around the world have to offer.
1. Ramen in Japan
Coming all the way from Japan, ramen has completely transcended its humble origins to become a global phenomenon. At its core, ramen is a comforting dish filled with lots of love and heart. Filled with silky, chewy noodles swimming in a rich, flavourful broth, it's topped with an assortment of garnishes that would make anyone smile. It’s no surprise foodies around the globe have fallen head over heels for this dish! But the secret to the most amazing ramen lies in its broth - whether it’s the miso-based version from Sapporo, the soy-sauce variant in Tokyo, or the tonkatsu (pork bone) style from Fukuoka, it’s the broth that makes or breaks the dish.
But what makes ramen truly special and beloved around the world is its surprising versatility. Each region in Japan specializes in a different style of ramen, putting their own unique spin on the dish by adding unique layers of depth and complexity. All this means is, as you travel around the country, no two ramen bowls will taste exactly the same. With so many diverse flavours to explore, it’s no wonder ramen has become a global dish enjoyed across the world.
2. Pizza in Italy
Is any list of popular dishes complete without pizza on it? As a testament to the popularity of Italian cuisine, this iconic dish is the favourite of many around the world. Originating in Naples, pizza has garnered universal love thanks to its holy trinity of a crisp, airy crust, tangy tomato sauce, and delicious melty cheese.
Although the traditional Neapolitan pizza is a masterpiece of simplicity and balanced flavours, pizza has been adapted and transformed by many different countries. That’s because the genius behind pizza, like ramen, lies in its versatility. From the deep-dish style of Chicago to the thin-crust version of New York to different toppings that complement different cuisines, pizza has an international appeal like no other. So whether you’re looking to indulge in a simple Margherita or a fancy gourmet creation, pizza is a dish that will never fail to delight.
3. Tacos in Mexico
As an iconic dish coming from the vibrant country of Mexico, tacos have taken the world by storm with their bright, complex flavours. We can all agree that the traditional taco is a handheld wonder - featuring a corn or wheat tortilla, it’s filled with a variety of ingredients from spiced meats to fresh seafood, all combining together to create the most satisfying bite.
When it comes to Mexican cuisine, it’s built from a rich tapestry of Indigenous, Spanish, and other culinary influences. The taco, a dish that is so innovative and versatile, is perfect for representing this beautiful fusion. Whether you enjoy them at street food stalls or gourmet restaurants, you’ll never be disappointed.
4. Pad Thai in Thailand
It shouldn’t come to you as a surprise that one of Thailand’s most popular dishes, Pad Thai, has managed to capture the hearts and stomachs of people around the world. Thanks to its expertly crafted balance of sweet, sour, spicy, and salty flavours, this quintessential street food dish is able to tick off every box your taste buds desire. Featuring deliciously chewy stir-fried rice noodles that are tossed with eggs, tofu, shrimp, bean sprouts, and peanuts, it all comes together when that tangy-sweet tamarind sauce is added in.
Pad Thai represents the essence of Thai cuisine: it’s a harmony of diverse flavours and ingredients. Each mouthful will feel like a symphony of flavour, texture, and smell. Though this signature Thai dish has humble origins, mostly found in stalls all over the bustling streets, Pad Thai continues to win over food enthusiasts with its exciting, exotic appeal.
5. Couscous in Morocco
Finally, we’re rounding out our list with couscous, a comforting and heartwarming dish originating all the way from North Africa. As an international favourite, couscous is made from tiny granules of durum wheat semolina and is traditionally served with a hearty stew filled with meat, vegetables, and aromatic spices.
If you ever have the luxury of trying this dish directly in Morocco, just know couscous is more than just a plate of food. It celebrates community, hospitality, and is oftentimes served during special occasions and family gatherings. This is due to the fact that preparing couscous with the traditional method is quite labour-intensive. With such a long cooking process, it’s a labour of love that always ensures the dish is served with extra special warmth.
Throughout our lives, one of the most rewarding adventures we can go on is getting to explore the world through all its different cuisines. The five dishes listed above don’t only represent some of the most popular dishes in the world, but they also speak to the beautiful diversity that exists in our global culinary landscape. There’s so much to try out there, so maybe it’s time to start jumping out of your comfort zone to explore them all!