Where in the world can you eat the best food? The answer to this question is rather complex and doesn’t have a fixed answer. The “best” will always, to a great extent, be subjective, and doesn’t have a fixed answer. Different people have different preferences, and it also depends on where you eat, who is cooking it, and what you are eating.
But the fact of the matter is that some countries in the world are more influential and famous than others when it comes to food and food culture. This ultimately comes down to the country’s history, heritage, and its relationship with food. All countries have their own food cultures which involve anything from traditions, eating habits, ingredients, dishes, and much more. But with that said, in some countries, food plays a more important and vital role than in others. In certain countries, food is merely a way to survive, whereas, in others, it plays a central role in the inhabitants’ way of life.
Generally speaking, it is the countries where food plays a crucial and important role, that establish themselves as the “best food countries”, and become well-known around the world for its cuisine.
To learn more about these countries and food cultures, we share the top 10 food countries in the world. The countries on this list are in no particular order. And, as stated, it will depend on which factors you consider. The list can always be debated, and we are sure that many of you probably have some countries you would like to add, and perhaps some countries you would like to remove. We would love to hear your feedback and the reasoning behind it!
India is the second most populated country, and therefore, their food culture involves a lot of people. But because India is so large, and has so many inhabitants, its food culture involves many regional differences.
Two of the most popular dishes in India are chicken tikka masala and tandoori chicken. In fact, these have spread all around the world, which means you can enjoy these, and enjoy India’s food culture regardless if you are in India or New York.
In Indian cuisine, spices are widely used, such as cumin, star anise, cardamom, curry, cinnamon, chili, tamarind, turmeric, and more. Indian food is united by the love of mixtures of many spices. Incidentally, the variation is huge – from South India’s feather-light pure vegetarian to North India’s heavy grilled meat on skewers. Tandoori dishes and other meat dishes in Northern India have their roots in Central Asia and Turkey. South Indian vegetarian food has multi-thousand-year-old native roots.
Indian food culture has heavily influenced large parts of the world. This is in particular the history of international relations, including the spice trade between India and Europe. When the Europeans came to India, they brought with them, amongst other things, spices.
Vietnam may not be the first food country and culture that comes to mind. But if you think about some of the dishes that come from Vietnam, you will realize that many of them, including the ingredients used, are widely spread around the world.
Vietnam is famous for its spring rolls, both deep-fried and fresh, which are popular throughout the country. And they are made differently throughout all of Vietnam which means they will never taste the same. Another popular dish is the noodle soup.
Typical spices in the Vietnamese cuisine are lemongrass, lime, and not least coriander. Coriander is widely used in Vietnam.
In this food culture, you will also find chili sauce and the fish sauce, cuoc mam.
The Vietnamese kitchen has a wide variety of food and dishes, which also have a lot of regional differences. In the southern part of the country, the food is a little spicier, with chili spices and fresh herbs. In central Vietnam, the dishes are still spicy, but never fiery. In the north, chili is gradually exchanged for black pepper.
The legacy of a nearly thousand-year Chinese government is evident in the north. The Mongols have actually contributed the noodle soup pho with beef. In the south, Indian influences came via Cambodia – hence the curry dishes. France’s colonial era has also left its mark, among other things, with stuffed baguettes like regular street food.
In Vietnam, Rice plays an important role, and this is nowadays extremely popular all around the globe.
Taco is probably what first comes to mind when thinking about Mexican cuisine. Taco is not only popular in Mexico, but has today become a loved and appreciated dish all around the world.
Typical spices in Mexico are chili, cumin, chipotle. Tacos is a concept that can vary infinitely – fill it with shrimp, avocado, pork, or whatever you feel like. The variety in Mexican cuisine is very large. The foundation for many Mexican dishes is beans and corn – where the similarities between the different regions end. Mexico is a country whose cuisine is not heavily influenced by other countries. Some influences come from Spain as a result of colonization with ingredients such as olive oil and cattle.
But to a greater extent, Mexican food has influenced other cultures. This is in particular American food due to the large immigration from Mexico to the USA.
4. South Africa
South Africa is another country that may not immediately come to mind when you think about food cultures. But the fact is that South Africa has a really interesting and important food culture.
Typical spices in South African cuisine are cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Generally, South African dishes are largely based on good ingredients, not spices. The variation in the food is large here. In South Africa, you will find everything from barbeque with boerwurst, spicy Cape Malay food, wonderful seafood, and fresh fish.
The South African cuisine has been influenced from a long history of colonization and immigration during the colonial period.
Thailand is a country with a huge food culture, which has also influenced and been adapted and appreciated in most parts of the world. Curry dishes with meat, chicken, or fish, always served with rice. And so the noodle classic pad thai.
Red curry, Thai basil, and coconut milk are popular ingredients in the Thai cuisine. Typical spices include curry – red, green, yellow, panang, and chili, garlic, and basil course. Thai food is heavily influenced by Indian spices and flavors, which is evident in its famous curries.
A lot of lime and garlic are used in the slightly milder northern part of the country. In the central and southern parts, there are even more chili and extremely spicy food. In the north, influences have taken in from Burma and southern China, and in the central parts, Indian flavors have left an impression.
Malaysia has an interesting and unique cuisine, influenced by many of its neighboring countries. This makes Malaysia, to a large extent, a cuisine with many different influences from many different countries. Typical spices used in Malaysia are Chili, turmeric, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, and more, and many more.
The variation in the cuisine is also huge. The different ethnicities, religions, and Malaysia’s geography means that almost all taste buds are catered for within the country’s borders. If you are a vegetarian then there are plenty of dishes, especially Indian, which are common in Malaysia. If you like pork, you will probably appreciate many Chinese dishes which are also popular in Malaysia.
The fact that Malaysia is surrounded by sea is something that has influenced the cuisine greatly. Many coastal restaurants serve different types of fish dishes, crabs, sea lobsters and much more.
The fact that Malaysia is a multicultural nation with an eventful history is evident in many ways, including in the country’s cuisine. The Chinese who came to work in the tin mines brought dishes not only from Canton but also other parts of China. The Indians who worked on the tea plantations continued to cook their curries. The proximity to Thailand is clear in northern Malaysia, which one can imagine as the right penang curry is available in two versions, one for each country.
The Japanese cuisine is famous all around the world. It is most closely associated with its fish dishes, in particular sushi and teriyaki. In Japan, a wide variety of fish is enjoyed, such as squid, octopus, eel, and shellfish appear in all kinds of dishes from sushi to tempura.
Typical spices used in Japanese cuisine are raw foods, more than anything else. For a little extra flavor, ginger, chili, sesame oil, and mirin can sometimes be used. Of course soy too. Whilst Japan is most known for its sushi, its cuisine is so much more than that. Gyoza, sukiyaki, yakitori, tempura, sashimi, and much, much more.
For many centuries Japan was one of the most isolated countries of the time with its gates closed to the outside world. But the empire’s influence over the Korean peninsula and sometimes even China still managed to influence the domestic food culture. Several dishes are entirely old Korean and Chinese dishes that have long been included in Japanese cuisine.
Rice also plays an important role in Japanese cuisine. A typical Japanese meal consists of a bowl of rice, known as gohan, a bowl of miso soup, pickled vegetables, and fish or meat. Furthermore, the Japanese also eat several kinds of noodles, which are also cheap and popular for light meals.
Greece, with its location next to the Mediterranean, has a food culture heavily influenced by the Mediterranean way of life, neighbors, and temperatures. Popular dishes in Greece are souvlaki and Greek salad.
Typical spices used are cinnamon and thyme. The variation is relatively small in Greek cuisine. The similarities with food from Turkey and Lebanon are great. Furthermore, The Greek diet has been influenced by traditions from both the East and West.
The proximity to the orient means that several flavors have been imported from the east.
Naturally, due to its long coastline, fish and seafood also play an important role. It is common for the Greeks to eat bread, grains, potatoes, rice, and pasta almost every day. You may also associate Greek cuisine with ingredients such as feta cheese, olives, olive oil, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, Yoghurt, to mention a few.
Italy is one of the most well-known and well-respected food cultures and countries in the world. Italian food is loved and appreciate all around the world, and very widespread and available almost anywhere you go.
The Italian cuisine is most famous for its pizza and pasta, of which you have endless variations. Italian food widely uses garlic, rosemary pepperoni, parsley, basil. Typical for the Italian cuisine is simplicity – few ingredients and pure flavors. Good raw materials. And this is really key here. Italy loves fresh and vibrant ingredients, and making food from scratch. Including
The Italians have a great passion for food, and it plays a substantial role in Italian culture. They take food very seriously, and this is partly due to the importance of food in daily lives, as it is used to bring people together. Italians tend to eat large meals together with a large number of people including relatives, friends, and family.
Without a doubt, Italian cuisine deserves a spot on this list.
10. United States
USA is, amongst many other dishes, famous for hamburgers. A lot of people the associate USA with fast food, and perhaps also unhealthy food such as fried chicken. Whilst this is part of the American food culture, it consists of so much more than that. The variation in American cuisine is large. American food is so much more than a one-off fast food. Each state has its own regional dishes. From lobster and clam chowder in New England to musty gumbo sauces and smoking hot Tex-Mex in the south.
Hamburger is a dish that was introduced by German immigrants in the late 19th century. Generally speaking, the more south you come, the spicier the food gets.
American cuisine was created by its immigrants. In the clash between the new and old country arose the soul food of the slaves, the Jews’ delicacy, or the French-influenced Cajun cuisine.