Medal-worthy meals around the world

Well, it's almost over for another four years. The 2012 London Olympics has provided us with high highs, low lows and the chance to see some underrated countries shine (way to go Kazakhstan!)

The world is a big place, and seeing everyone come together for an event like the Olympics makes you realise there's a lot to see and do. Once the coverage is over, why not think about booking a trip and going to visit somewhere new and exciting?

Today's spotlight is on food. Because it's one the best things about travel. Here's three different cuisines that will get your tastebuds jumping, diving, hurdling, racing and leaping: 

Gold: Morocco
Sure, you probably cook with spices at home all the time - a sprinkle of nutmeg here, a pinch of paprika there. But once you've been to Morocco you'll never look at your spice rack the same way. The food here packs so much flavour, your tastebuds will feel like they're being used for the very first time. 

Order a tagine or couscous and you'll be hit by the combincation of ginger, cumin, salt, black pepper and tumeric that's found in nearly every dish. Cumin is so widely used that you'll find it up on the table right alongside the salt and pepper. That hint of something spicy in your fruit salad? That would be cinnamon. And heat-lovers will delight in the use of paprika and Sahara chiles in many of the tomato-based dishes, vegetable tagines and charmoulas.

Moroccan hospitality is legendary, and everyone who welcomes you into their home will have a table laden with tasty delights and a pot of mint tea brewing. At first you might find the traditional brew to be sickly sweet, but stick with it. It's popular for a reason! Take your time over food and don't rush. Settle into the laidback culture, and share a few laughs around the table as you eat, drink and be merry.

Silver: Czech Republic
There's two things you will learn very quickly on arrival in the Czech Republic. One - it's impossible to watch your weight around Czech food. Two - beer is usually cheaper to buy than a cup of coffee or a Coke.

With those two delightful tidbits of info under your belt, it's time to get stuck in. It's hard to know where to start - is it a big steaming bowl of soup, a traditional roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut or a plump apple strudel? Well, why not do as the locals do and treat yourself to all three. 

Most of the dishes are based on ingredients that can be grown locally, including legumes and potatoes, which are most often served with pork, beef or poultry or freshwater fish.

Czechs love soup, and they'll make it out of practically everything - garlic soup, milk soup, tomato soup, lentil soup. You name it there's bound to be a restaurant serving it. And they love a side dish too. Dumplings (knedliky) come in a variety of different guises - usually made from wheat or potato flour, boiled in water as a roll and then sliced and served hot.

You might love or hate rajská, an oddly intriguing combination of meat with sauce and whipped cream. But do yourself a favour and at least give it a go. And for something really naughty it's hard to go past another Czech classic, fried cheese (Sma┼żený Sýr) garnished with baked potatoes and tartar sauce.

Bronze: Mexico
Every second pop-up restaurant or food truck these days tend to be spruiking authentic Mexican cuisine. Sure, there's nothing wrong with a plate of nachos smothered in Coon tasty cheese or a taco bursting at the seams with minced beef and lettuce. But for a real Mexican flavour you need to get over there and try it for yourself.

Many people think Mexican food is similar to the food in Latin America, but with its zesty balance of acid, spice and sweetness you'll actually find yourself comparing it more to South East Asia. 

Every part of the country has something great to offer, but all of it relies on using the freshest ingredients possible: chillies, tomatoes, limes, coriander, red onion, avocado, corn and not to mention the pulled pork and lean meats that are so popular.

In the Puebla area, you'll get a lot of mole (mole-ay) which is a thick sauce made with herbs, chocolate and spices. It's usually served as an accompaniment to the main meal of chicken or beef.

In coastal towns, your meal will be brimming with shrimp lathered in spices and grilled or served as a shrimp cocktail with a chile dipping sauce. You can also take your pick from fish tacos or whole fish drizzled with lime, oregano and garlic.

Which of these countries would you most like to pay a culinary visit to? Tell us in the comments section below. Or if you've got pics and recipes to share pop them on our Facebook page.

Check out all our culinary trips and find the one that tempts your tastebuds the most. 

 

 

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