5 Memorable Meals

Words and photography by Dalene & Pete Heck

We know what you’re thinking.

Life lessons are great and all, and maybe you even enjoyed a few of our most memorable photos – but we are aware that what you probably really want to know is which country has the best food. (It is the second most common question we get, other than where our fave places are.)

This might have been our toughest list yet. From trying llama at high altitudes in Bolivia, to devouring pizza on the Amalfi Coast and everything in between, we’ve eaten very well and are sporting a extra flesh to show for it. (You’ll notice that most of these are not particularly healthy. Where are the countries that have celery as their national food?)

It’s a tough life, traveling to all these countries and sampling all these foods just to bring you lists such as these.

You’re welcome.

Dalene’s most memorable meals

1. Pasta in Favignana, Sicily, Italy

Favignana Pasta

Yes. Of course my first meal is pasta, and of course it came from Italy. It was so simple with tomatoes and basil in a hot chili oil, yet so delicious I absolutely wanted to cry. I offered Pete one tiny sample then fought him off with my fork the rest of the time. It was far too good to share. (Sorry! I don’t remember the name of the restaurant. It was something like “Two Columns”. I think I might actually be able to smell my way there.)

2. A million course meal in Amman, Jordan

Chick Peas in Jordan

I completely underestimated the number of amazing things that can be done with the chick pea. Coming off of our first three month stay in Turkey, where we were still raving about all we ate there, this one welcome dinner in Jordan immediately made me forget all about it. Not to mention the variety and amount of food served, we sampled so many dishes in one dinner and heard so many different names that it all became a delicious blur. For me, Jordanian and Italian food are neck-and-neck for the ultimate cuisine.

3. Homemade pierogi in Krakow, Poland

Polish Pierogi

We arrived in Poland on a mission: to eat all the pierogi. And we did fairly well, rarely a day went by without sampling more, and by the time we got to our last stay in Krakow, we got to panicking about what we would do when we left. Happily a pierogi cooking class was arranged for us, and we spent the day learning how to make the little bundles of goodness from a master. Pierogi for posterity!

4. Pad Thai in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Pad Thai

We found love, joy, perfection…all for $1. All of our dreams about finding a local hangout in order to acquire a daily fix of cheap and divine pad thai came true when we discovered the tiny dive of Mae Sunee’s – just a few feet away from our apartment. We spent nearly every lunch hour there, and I barely deviated off of my regular order. It was far too good.

5. Steak in Uruguay

I can note no specific restaurant, nor share any one photo (usually because I ate it faster than Pete could get his camera out). And it doesn’t matter. Go into any restaurant in that country, order it up jugoso and add some gorgonzola sauce on it. Then take out your spoon – not a knife, but a spoon – and cut it up with that. Because you can. Lick the plate clean, and use your napkin only to wipe the it’s-so-good-I-need-to-cry tears from your eyes.

Pete’s most memorable meals

1. All the pasta in Bologna, Italy

Tagliatele and Lasagna

There are none more serious about their food than Italians. We quickly learned how each location across the country is defined by what they put on the plate in front of you. In Naples it’s pizza, braised goat in Campi (Tuscany), and In the north they eat more rice and polenta. But in Bologna, it’s all about the tagliatelle with bolognese and lasagne. We were fortunate guests for one afternoon in Mama’s kitchen and were spoiled with plate after plate of the best pasta I’ve ever had, while chatting with Mama about her fine restaurant and her own history. I’ll never forget the passion that Mama had for food, nor how absolutely spectacular each dish tasted.

2. Greek Salad in Lesvos, Greece

Greek Salad

You’ve never tasted Greek salad until you’ve had it in Greece. The fresh juicy tomatoes and cucumbers mixed with red onions, green and black olives and olive oil stright from the source. And the brick of feta cheese that comes on top! There was no stinginess there, and every bite was a divine medley of everything on the plate.

3. Grandma’s Thai Recipes in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Carrot-Salad-Thailand

I love to cook. And when I have the chance to learn an authentic dish or skill I take advantage. We were invited to Grandma’s Thai Recipes cooking class while we were in Chiang Mai. We prepared eight dishes total that day but this one stood out. It was a spin off from a Spicy Papaya Salad (papaya’s were not in season) and instead we used carrots. The simplicity of the recipe coupled with the flavour made it a dish that I will be recreating again and again.

4. Home cooked Turkish meal in Burhaniye, Turkey

Dolma

Still to this day I am blown away by the kindness and compassion of the Turkish people. Numerous times we were invited as guests into people’s homes, picnics, football games in tea houses without any expectation in return. This particular meal was a farewell dinner arranged for us with a family who we had become very good friends with. Their daughter was the only one who could speak some English and so we would have to translate what we wanted to say through her. The dolma above would always be served before the meal as an appertif before the main course. The freshly squeezed lemon took away the bitterness of the grape leaves giving it an incredible fresh flavour. It was easily one of our favourite Turkish dishes.

5. Fried Tarantula in Spiderville, Cambodia

Fried Tarantula

It certainly wasn’t my favourite food, but it was definitely a memorable one. As a tourist I was plastered with live tarantulas while being offered the chance to munch on some fried ones. I’m pretty sure the fella on my shirt was not pleased that I could have been sampling one of his family members. I also tried the spiders in a more fancy setting in Phnom Penh – it was prepared the same way, but dipped in a chili lime sauce (much better). It was here as well that I sampled the belly of the spider which was a lot better than I expected.

Editor’s note (Dalene): GROSS.

 
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See more from our ‘Five Series’ – celebrating five years of travel!

Five Life Lessons

Five Memorable Places

Five Memorable Photos

Five Memorable Moments

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22 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • May 29 2014

    The Pad Thai looks delicious – it’s always my go-to meal at Thai restaurants! Yours looks so good, and cost about 10% what mine usually does!

    One of my most memorable meals was one I had in Martinique called Colombo. It’s a chicken curry, but everything was fresh and locally grown. I literally wanted to lick the plate after!
    Alyssa recently posted..One Year of Alyssa Writes! [Giveaway]

    • June 5 2014

      Ohhh, that sounds good. One of these days, I am just going to lick the plate.

  • May 29 2014

    Mmmmmm pasta …. mmmmm chickpeas! Looks delicious! I’m vegan and I love that some of these meals are vegetarian!
    Lauren recently posted..Travel Blogger Thursday: Ashley of A Southern Gypsy

    • June 5 2014

      Wow, lots of vegetarian photos actually! I never even realized that!

  • I’ll second the Pad Thai in Chiang Mai. If you’re ever in Thailand again, the place where the dish got its start is in Western Bangkok. Yes, it apparently has an actual birthplace – I heard rumors about it and eventually found it awhile back… It’s called Thip Samai, still makes great food, and well worth the short wait to get in.

    • June 5 2014

      Thanks for the tip Chris! We’d love to go and taste it right from the source. 🙂

  • I can’t wait to have Pad Thai in Thailand! Thai is my favourite cuisine and I am going to go NUTS when I finally go to Thailand next year. I didn’t know much about Jordanian food but it looks delicious.

    • June 5 2014

      Jordanian food was a big surprise for us about how much we loved it. So many diverse flavors – soooo good.

  • May 30 2014

    You’re brave. I don’t think I could get fried tarantula down.

    • June 5 2014

      Brave/stupid? It’s a fine line. 🙂

  • May 30 2014

    Give me a good plate of pasta ANY day. I would get so fat if I lived in Italy… haha.

    And I totally agree with Pete on Greek salads in Greece – you simply cannot beat that big slab of feta on top!!
    Amanda recently posted..Highlights from a (Canadian) Rocky Mountain Road Trip

    • June 5 2014

      Funny thing is, that was actually MY salad. I couldn’t keep him off of it.

  • LOVE this post but it’s also TORTURE…
    I was eager to read this but made sure to grab some lunch first. Reading food posts on an empty stomach is the worst. Also, I love the editor’s note 😉

    Happy travels!
    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren recently posted..Newport Beach: A Perfect Day Trip Outside of L.A.

  • May 30 2014

    Congrats on the travels and delicious meals along the way! Agreed that perogies in Krakow or the bomb.

    Shaun
    http://www.thislifeintrips.com

  • What a fun list! It would be so hard for me to narrow down five! Love that you have pad thai and the trantrula on here. As for a real Greek salad and having more pasta in Bologna…I’ll have to get to those!
    Jessica of Curiosity Travels recently posted..What Americans Can Learn From Italians

  • June 1 2014

    I am dying to eat some pad thai gain!

  • June 3 2014

    Wow those are some amazing dishes east and west, i do love all the Eastern European countries well and italian food too, all my favorites.

  • June 6 2014

    Ah, great food! And beets on the Greek salad! I’ll have to do that. No to the spider. No. just no.

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    June 16 2014

    Now this is my kind of travel retrospect! I’m not sure that I’d be able to pick my 5 favorite meals even though we’ve only been traveling for 2 years, but I sure enjoyed salivating over your choices! We’re currently in Bologna and had a home made plate of rigatoni with ragu last night and it was far & away the best thing we’ve eaten here in Italy.

  • Anna
    July 12 2014

    I struggle to pick my top 5! So well done – sometimes it’s the simple things done well that really stand out. One of my most memorable meals was the first time I tried a taco in Mexico City. Amazing!

  • November 9 2014

    Why was another spider sitting on his shirt? But I share the sentiment – I felt the same when first eating a camel burger and then riding a camel in Morocco.
    All in all – love that post – Jordan high on my list, especially after this endorsement!

  • December 19 2016

    After almost 4 years of full time travel now, I think the worst thing I’ve ever tasted is deep fried tarantula in Cambodia. MY KIDS MADE ME! They love trying new weird things, weird things are weird for a reason. Stay wellDalene, I’m enjoying exploring your site.
    Alyson recently posted..6 Weeks in Thailand: Highlights and Round Up

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