Here’s a taste guide for food around the world, starting with Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, and the Middle East.
As the “land of bread and honey,” Ethiopia has both unique flavors of food and styles of eating the food. For example, Injera, a type of bread, is both bread for the meal and a utensil, like a fork or a spoon, for the other dishes. When eating, Ethiopians tear a piece off, scoop up the sauce or meat, and eat it.
While the country has many fruits such as bananas, pomegranates, and custard apples, people do not end the meal with something sweet like desserts. Instead, meals are often finished with iab, a mixture of yogurt and cottage cheese. To drink, many people enjoy tej, a popular honey wine. And if you’re still hungry at the end of the meal, try some kolo(roasted barley) as a snack!
Local restaurants offer many food choices. Brave eaters can enjoy crocodile, caterpillars, and even sheep heads! But more popular dishes include boerewors (sausages), biltong (dried salted meat), and frikkadels (little hamburgers with nutmeg). Many people also eat seafood, such as rock lobster, crayfish, salt cod, and pickled fish. Meat pies (Hoender Pastei) are also popular and usually prepared with chicken and topped with hard-boiled eggs and ham slices.
The countries of Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria, Togo, Mali, Sierra Leone, Benin, Senegal, Guinea and the Ivory Coast make up West Africa. Unlike many other countries, colonization by the Europeans had very little influence on these countries. West African food has only small amounts of meat and is high in fat from palm and coconut oils. Starchy vegetables are popular, such as yams, plantains, cocoyams, cassava, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. West African food is very, very hot. Spice is a key ingredient, and since chilis have a cooling effect on the body, they are great in hot weather. Seafood is also commonly used, and is often mixed with meat in dishes. Chicken and eggs are regularly served with lamb and goat in stews, and peanuts (or “groundnuts” as Africans call them) are used in many dishes, either as an ingredient, or mashed into a paste.
Caribbean food is a mix of many different cultural influences, similar to American food. One of the nicest island traditions is to have a late lunch on a Sunday afternoon. Stews of beef, pork, chicken, or goat are tasty and popular, and seafood, such as shrimp and lobster, is also a favorite. Coconut or coconut milk is often added to rice and peas to add flavor.
Central American Foods
The countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama make up Central America. The region has warm weather and sunshine, giving the cooks many fruits and vegetables to use in their recipes. Beans of all kinds are thought to have come from Central America, which is why they are in almost every local dish. In Spanish, beans are called frijoles. This often refers specifically to a pot of slow-cooked beans. Central American food also uses plantains (small bananas), papayas (a type of fruit), and squash.
Middle Eastern Foods
The Middle East is home to many foods that use honey, chickpeas, sesame seeds, parsley, mint, and flat breads known as pitas. Because the Middle East is a region with many local spices, each country adds its own spin on local dishes and drinks.