It’s that time once again to put our local experts to the test with our local expert challenge! This week, we asked our experts on the ground to head to their local supermarkets from Perth to Prague and find some of their favorite exceptionally tasty, bizarrely regional, or particularly convenient snack foods.
We love that feeling on first landing in a new destination: everything from the airport security procedures to the color of the traffic signals is different and new. One of the best ways to prolong this feeling, even before checking into the hotel room, is to step into a local supermarket. It may seem mundane, but whether they’re stocking a local delicacy or a crazy Kit-Kat flavor, a market’s shelves root travelers in a place’s everyday reality.
If these shelves could talk, they would speak volumes about regional tastes and culinary traditions … and they would make us really, really hungry.
Tea Eggs. These may look like an item only Sweeney Todd would devour, but they are actually great tasting and incredibly healthy. The first few times I saw them at the convenience store, bubbling away in a vat of black liquid, I have to admit the smell and sight were a bit off putting … Basically, they are eggs boiled in black tea and spices, including soy sauce, anise stars, and bay leaves.
What is a peameal bacon sandwich? It is a handful of yum. Peameal bacon is a Canadian variety of breaded bacon (not to be confused with that other artery clogger, Canadian bacon). And be sure to ask for extra mustard!
Eye candy and spice, Mama Zuma’s Revenge Habanero Potato Chips originate in Middletown, Virginia, but are quite popular all over. A mixture of sweetness and heat, these specialty chips are great for sharing with your travel buddies or coworkers.
I’m convinced that New Zealand is the land of the Long Muesli Bar Isle, because that’s exactly what you get in every supermarket. These grainy, nutty, fruity little bars are extremely popular here.
When my sisters are visiting from England, they have to pick up ketchup chips and dill pickle chips. It sounds like an acquired taste, but after you try one, you will understand why we Canadians love them! You can even get those flavors in mini rice cakes too, for those that are a little more health conscious.
Křupky is the snack food of choice for quite a few people; many ate it as a child and still have a fondness for it today. It’s a peanut-butter-flavored nibble; with the texture of cheese puffs, like Cheetos. You’ve been warned.
7-Elevens and Family Marts are ubiquitous in Bangkok, and potato chips take up most of one aisle. Sounds a bit boring and familiar, but consider the flavors: Barbecued Pork, Shrimp, Cuttlefish, Octopus, Spicy Crab. And even some very Thai recipes such as Tom Yum Koong and Laab.
The deli counter more closely resembles a full-on butcher shop as opposed to your typical cold cuts and cheese counter. Only hardcore carnivores will want to wander into the deli, as some of the sights may be shocking: pigs’ heads, cows’ tongue, and the dreaded, textured tripe (stomach lining).
As far as I can figure out, and please correct me if I’m wrong, chocolate freckles are a uniquely Australian treat. But they’re utterly delicious. These freckles are slightly larger than the regular ones and that’s what I like about them.
A packet of Haggis-flavored Potato Crisps—these will certainly give you the true taste of Scotland with the distinct Haggis flavor.
On the fjord, the obvious snack, or rather dinner, is a heap of prawns. You peel them, add mayo, squeeze on some lemon, and make prawn sandwiches. Chilled white wine is the ideal companion.
Can’t wait for the later-than-you’re-used-to Swiss dinner hour? Then head for the nearest supermarket where you will find the locals snacking away. Sometimes there are benches inside and outside the supermarket door just for this purpose!
Got a sweet tooth? This is a must have. The ritual: At the shop, jostle with the locals to see these succulent savories being deep-fried prior to being dunked in sugar syrup. They are to be had hot and still dripping with the syrup. Mmmm … messy and heavenly.
Charcuteries sell just about everything that is interesting, imported, and fresh. You can even buy your bread there and then have the charcuterie vendor prepare you a fresh sandwich with fresh ingredients off the counter.
The Napa and Sonoma valleys are fertile growing grounds for much more than the wine that makes them so famous. Depending on the season, you might see stands selling tomatoes and other garden vegetables, fresh-picked berries, exotic mushrooms, micro-greens, and fresh herbs.
Ahh … but the ultimate in Israeli-style snacking are burekas (they’re actually a Turkish import). Puff pastry filled with cheese, potato, spinach, mushrooms, or sometimes all of these together.
Spam musubi: Quite easily the most famous snack offered to teens growing up in the Hawaiian Islands. The recipe is quite simple: one block of rice topped with spam and wrapped with seaweed.
For a typically French snack that you can throw in your daypack and dig into anytime you get a bit peckish; pick up a jar of cornichon (fine pickled gherkins), a mini or standard baguette and a tub of rillette—a type of paste made from tuna, salmon, or pork.
Nopales are flat pads of cactus. You find them in the produce section where you can often see employees removing the spine (sharp, pointy ends) and chopping the nopales into cubes. This low-carb, high-fiber food is native to Mexico.
Image Source: JoeGray (cc)