Have you ever visited an area and became so enamored with a particular food or drink that your new mission was to find it everywhere you go in that place, and again when you get home? Food has an incredible relationship to travel, hence the popularity of so many travel food shows. Here are three of my favorite place-based foods. They also happen to be loaded with carbs and not foods I’d recommend you (or I) eat on a daily basis, but these treats are as special as the places they come from.
Medovik (Russian Honey Cake)
Other than perhaps experiencing the Kremlin Armory and the Hermitage museums, and spending time in a Russian banya (spa), honey cake is certainly in my top five experiences from Russia. Kara and I had one slice of honey cake (Medovik) for dessert and were hooked. We may have had it four or five times over the course of a weeklong trip, and I would have eaten more, if more had been available. We had simple honey cakes and elaborate honey cakes. The best way I can describe it is if you made an old school icebox cake, but out of graham crackers, and then laced it with delicious illicit drugs. We even found it was available special-order at a Russian store in Deerfield Beach when we got home, but being that it was Christmastime and apparently a holiday favorite, it was sold out. It may be time to try again, since we sadly are likely not going back to Russia any time soon.
I’m unhealthily obsessed with pretty much all Hawaiian food: Portuguese malasada donuts, poke, shrimp chips, Hawaiian bread, shave ice, Kona coffee and dessert mochi, but one food ubiquitous to the islands is not easy to find elsewhere. What delicacy is that, you ask? SPAM Musubi, my friend. Made of seasoned SPAM strapped to a hunk of sticky rice with seaweed – like a warm, mutant piece of sushi – this half-Japanese, half-American creation is 100% delicious and Hawaiian. SPAM, if you didn’t know, is canned Hormel pork that was brought to Hawaii in World War II because it lasts essentially forever and could feed our troops without going bad. You can find SPAM musubi everywhere from gas stations to gourmet markets in Hawaii, but not so much on the mainland, which may intensify the obsession and cravings. That said, TrekSimple Caren’s husband has perfected them! I’m putting my request in for SPAM Musubi dinner now.
Black and White Cookies
The food in New York City could be its own blog post, its own book, its own show – its own Universe. Whenever I go there, I’m generally on a mission to fill out my NYC food bingo card: a slice of pizza, a bagel, a piece of cheesecake, a dirty water dog (hotdog from a cart on a street corner), a cannoli and a black and white cookie. Side note, you can find all of these things in New Jersey and in South Florida, but there’s something about getting them from the source that is extra special. My favorite of all of these items is the beloved black and white cookie. Seinfeld even waxed poetic on the black and white cookie. If you’ve never had one, it’s a plain dense cake-like cookie coated on one side, half with thick vanilla fondant icing and half dark chocolate icing. There’s nothing as good as a legit black and white cookie, and also nothing so terrible as a bad attempt at one – like when the cookie itself is not spongy and delicious, but instead dry and flaky. Gross. You never truly know until you bite into the cookie, so it’s best to know your source, and even give it a little squeeze, first.
The hunt, and capture, of culinary treats makes travel that much more fun. Those are just a few of my favorites. What foods do you seek out on trips? What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to secure a special food? What are you excited to try?