You’re in a foreign country, you’re hungry but you just can’t figure out what the weirdly named snacks on the menu card stand for… I’d say: go ahead and try them anyway! Here’s five fast snacks and genuine local specialties that will make your taste buds sing…
French fries made even greasier, oh yes it can be done! You just add a thick layer of brown gravy and cheese curds. It’s particularly popular in Québec and sold in any pub, snack bar and fast food diner. Poutine means ‘mess’ in French – the perfect word to describe the dish. A big bowl, dripping with sauce and cheese and sometimes other equally greasy ingredients like bacon or pork. Even though it looks like food that has been thrown away by someone else before you, it’s actually quite yummy after a full day of walking around and exploring the city.
Rarebit in Wales
Rarebit is basically toasted bread with cheese, but the Welsh add that little bit of extra to make the dish really stand out. Like the savory melted cheddar cheese on top and my personal favorite: the varieties of chutney. Why the dish is called rarebit? Our guide couldn’t really tell for sure, but one explanation is that the original spelling was actually ‘rabbit’. It was a way of mocking the poor Welsh population: they couldn’t afford to eat real rabbit unlike other populations in the UK, so they ate cheese and toast instead. Hence, saying you’re eating ‘Welsh rabbit’ when you’re actually eating cheese. Over time, the spelling changed and became rarebit. Today the dish is no longer considered a poor man’s meal. It’s a very popular lunch meal and even fancy restaurants serve it. They add all kinds of ingredients like fresh veggies (corn, paprika etc), béchamel sauce and even beer. Order Welsh rarebit at a specialty Welsh cheese restaurant or cafe (like Madame Fromage in Cardiff) and you’re in for a real culinary treat!
Blinis in St-Petersburg
These Russkie blinis or Russian pancakes are perfect for breakfast or as a snack in between meals. They are thicker than your average pancake and they come with all types of fillings are sauces. The blinis above have melted sugar and a salmon caviar topping on them, the others come with a hot apple filling and soured cream. If you’re not too picky, you can order any blini on the Russian menu card and leave the filling to be a surprise… Cheap, delicious and available all around Saint-Petersburg!
Peixinhos-da-horta in Lisbon
Although this dish is called ‘little garden fish’, it has nothing to do with fish… So if you’ve had it with the seafood in Portugal, this green bean tempura is a yummy alternative. The beans are dipped in flower, deep fried and served hot. That’s how they get a crispy texture and although the beans are fried, the taste is moderately salty and light. The beans are accompanied with a wide variety of dipping sauces, like mustard and honey, or tomato, basil and soy sauce. I tasted the Peixinhos-da-horta with lemon juice at Bico do Sapato, a trendy restaurant in Lisbon, but you can just as easily try them in a snack bar or at a local market.
Arepa di pampuna in Curaçao
Another pancake, but the Caribbean way this time. They’re mainly made with pumpkin, butternut squash, eggs and milk, brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Like any other snack, the pancakes come in all kinds of variations: with raisins, Curaçao liqueur, vanilla extract, honey, apple … Most people on Curaçao eat arepa di pampuna on the go, wrapped in paper foil. In my case the pancakes were part of a vegetarian dish, served with sweet plantains and mashed potatoes. Either way, the pancakes are full of rich flavor. You’ll never go hungry in Curaçao!