It feels completely unreal to be writing these words, but I’ve been travelling around the world with my sidekick Simon for a whole year now. I’ve been dreaming of going on a round-the-world (RTW) trip for so long that actually doing it almost comes as a shock. Inspired by the hundreds of travel blogs I read while preparing for my trip I started JennyRTW during my last year in the UK.
Now, considering this is a TRAVEL blog it might seem weird that I haven’t posted a single thing about my actual trip since we left for Lima last October.
Let’s just say it was a combination of having too much fun, too little time and a crappy laptop. But as last week marked our one year travelversary I thought I’d get right back into blogging and share with you some of my favourite travel moments. After browsing over 13,000 photos I realised there are way too many memories to pick just ten, so I decided to create a few top ten lists which I will share over the next few weeks.
The first one is my top ten foods I ate on this trip (although I could have easily picked 100).
1. Ceviche, Ceviche, Ceviche; Peru, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico etc.
I tried this Peruvian national dish on literally the first night of our trip in Lima and fell in love on the spot. Ceviche is raw fish or seafood marinated in citrus juice which “cooks” it by denaturing the proteins. To my delight I discovered that ceviche is a popular dish, not only in Peru, but also throughout Central America and Mexico, so I got lots of opportunities to eat it. In fact, I got so obsessed with trying all the different versions (fish, prawn, conch, octopus, mushroom, with tomato, pepper etc) that Simon actually banned me from mentioning the word ceviche (unsuccessfully). The pic shows my first ever ceviche in Lima, served traditionally with giant corn and pumpkin, delicious!
2. $6 Lobster in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.
San Juan Del Sur is a small surfer town on the Pacific coast in Nicaragua and was our first stop in the country. Everybody we met was talking about this place where you could get three lobster tails for the bargain price of US$6! We managed to find the little restaurant and ended up eating there every night of our stay because it was just soooo delicious! I still dream about this place.
3. In ‘N’ Out Burgers in California.
I’ve heard stories about this burger chain from American friends for years now, so obviously it featured very high on my must-try list. There are only three burgers on the menu (hamburger, cheeseburger and double double) but there’s also a secret menu which only locals know about. Order your burger and/or fries “animal style” which means they add a special sauce, fried onions and melted cheese to your order, sooo good! All the burgers and fries are made from fresh produce, are never frozen and you can taste the difference. They say you can never go back to McDonald’s once you’ve been to In ‘n’ Out and boy are they right.
4. Queso Relleno, Merida, Mexico.
It is way too hard to pick just one or two dishes from our six weeks in Mexico, I will probably dedicate a whole post to that one day. But Queso Relleno (filled cheese) is a Yucatecan delicacy and I’d never heard of it before I went to Merida. Basically, it’s a ball of Edam cheese (yes, you heard right) stuffed with minced pork meat, and in my case a hard-boiled egg, and then smothered in creamy sauce. Sounds heavy? Yep, it is, but also oh so delicious, especially after missing cheese for four months in Central America.
5. Fry Jacks and birthday lobster on Caye Caulker, Belize.
Fry jacks are fried little pockets of dough which can be filled with anything from eggs to chicken or beans and cheese and are typically eaten for breakfast in Belize. We discovered these little parcels of joy on one of our first days on Caye Caulker and were immediately hooked. My favourite was the bean and cheese one and I like adding a lot of spicy relish to them, yum!
My other favourite meal in Belize was the birthday lobster that my awesome friends Alice and Seb treated me to as a surprise. They ordered the biggest lobster for me but the restaurant wanted to keep him as a lure for new guests so they ended up serving me TWO huge lobsters! I’m not ashamed to say I finished them both.
6. Tapado in Livingston, Guatemala.
Sadly we only discovered this seafood stew on our last day in Guatemala as it’s most commonly found on the Caribbean coast. We tried it at our guesthouse and I would’ve stayed for another day just to eat it again. A whole crab with pieces of fish and prawns were stewed in a spicy coconut broth. To die for.
7. Chicken Laksa, Sydney, Australia.
Australian chicken Laksa? Are you crazy? Ok it might not be Kangaroo burger or Emu steak, but trust me, with it’s huge Asian population Sydney has some of the best Asian food I’ve ever tried. Known as one of the most expensive cities in the world I find myself constantly pleasantly surprised at how affordable eating out (well) can be here. As long as you stick to Asian food you can eat out as much as your greedy little heart desires. Soup dumplings, noodles, sushi, Laab and whole fried Thai style fish are amongst my favourites but right on top of my list is this amazing authentic Malaysian Laksa. The Laksa is rich, coconutty, has oodles of noodles and the chicken is super tender. You can see the spicy red chilli oil shimmering on top but it’s not too hot. And the bean curd is just the perfect addition. Mmmmhhh.
8. Grilled fish at Mercado de Mariscos, Panama City, Panama.
The seafood market in Panama City would be reason enough alone for me to pack my bag and move to Panama immediately. Little stalls outside the market prepare the day’s fresh catch and serve it with a can of ice-cold Panama or Balboa beer. We stumbled upon the market on an evening stroll along the waterfront and from then on went nearly every day. I was in ceviche heaven but we also tried the whole grilled corvina (seabass) which was served with fried plantain and salad and quickly became our favourite.
9. Everything we ate with Ingrid in San Francisco, California.
One of my highlights of this whole trip was visiting my friend Ingrid who I met during my Masters program in Munich. Whenever we get together we reach new levels of silliness and try to eat our bodyweight in seafood, Chinese food or anything else we can get our hands on. When we arrived Ingrid had already prepared a list of places we should eat and all the dishes we needed to try. Every day we explored new restaurants, hole-in-the-wall places and new dishes. I loved our Cajun seafood feast, dim sum in Alameda and my all-time-favourite soup dumplings at Kingdom of Dumpling. It’s too hard to pick just one but I remember the awesome pizza we had on a visit to Berkeley at a place called Cheese Board. They only do one pizza every day, it’s always vegetarian and every slice comes with a little baby slice on the side! I can’t wait until our next trip to San Fran, Ingrid is already preparing a new list!
10. Home cooked dinner with Megan’s family in Orange County, California.
Although it’s amazing to be able to try all these new dishes and discover new favourites in every country, the truth is it can be quite tiring to have to search for your next meal every day. Some hostels don’t have kitchens or maybe you’re just lazy that day or just can’t face another meal of rice and beans, but sometimes you want nothing more than a nice home-cooked dinner. We were treated to this luxury many times during our time in California where we were lucky enough to stay with friends most of the time. One of my favourite meals was a roast chicken dinner that Megan’s mum Sue cooked for us. She had prepared everything and the only task us “kids” were left with was baking the garlic bread which we obviously we messed up and ended up burning. Megan’s dad Gary found this hilarious and texted a photo of the burnt bread to the whole family. It didn’t stop him from eating the burnt bread as he said he had a Scottish mum who burnt a lot of food, haha (I can relate to that).
It’s these small moments that I hope I will always remember.
So, that’s it, my favourite dishes from our trip so far. As much as I miss all of these I am also very excited to try new food while travelling in Australia, stay tuned for a post about my favourite meals in Sydney.
What dish from around the world would you like to try most?