Food cultures: Become a global gourmet

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The world is your oyster, as they say – but these days the world is also your croissant, your schnitzel, your sushi, your dumplings, your samosas, and so much more. To travel now is to indulge in a global smorgasbord, to not just see the world, but to taste it too. 

Every traveller knows that one of the major highlights of many destinations is the food. This is, after all, local culture at its most cherished and unadulterated. So many countries are incredibly proud of their cuisine, and with good reason: it's often the product of thousands of years of development, of passion, of creativity.

If you love to travel on your taste buds, then you've come to the right place, because these are some of the world's finest food cultures, and they will provide truly memorable culinary experiences. Bon appetite.  

FRANCE

So much of what we know about modern food culture – the very concept of restaurants and bistros, in fact – can be traced back to France. This is a country that is famous worldwide for its cuisine, from its pastries to its cakes, its bread to its cheeses, its casseroles to its sauces. Where would the world be without steak frites, or the pain au chocolat? To travel through France is to indulge your tastebuds on a daily basis, to enjoy foods both regional and seasonal, to observe the passion of local producers, of local cooks, and of course local diners. And we haven't even mentioned the wine…

Don't miss: Though the French gastronomic scene is filled with must-do moments, from Paris to Provence and beyond, a few stand out. One is a new APT Signature Experience: a meal at Ore Restaurant, an eatery owned and run by one of France's most awarded chefs, the multi-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse, in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Another is the chance to indulge in a wine tasting and dinner at Chateau de Ferrand, a Grand Cru Classe wine estate in the Saint-Emilion region that dates back to the 17th century. 

JAPAN

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There's perhaps no other country on Earth that takes as much care with its cuisine, that applies such passion to everything from the simplest of takeaway dishes to the most delicate of fine-dining creations, as Japan. Japan is a country that is obsessed with high-quality produce, where locality and seasonality are highly prized. Every dish you try here will be good, because it has to be good – the locals will accept nothing less. Though the country is well known for sushi, and that is certainly a culinary highlight, there's far more to discover here, including savoury pancakes, tempura, fish and vegetables deep-fried in lighter-than-air batter, ramen, the soup loved by a nation, and soba, the centuries-old tradition of handmade buckwheat noodles.

Don't miss: Though sushi might seem simple – it's just fish on rice, right? – there's no better way to appreciate the true complexity of this cherished cuisine than with a sushi-making class in Tokyo. A tea ceremony in historic Kyoto is also a must-do experience, as is a visit to a sake brewery.  

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GERMANY

This might be one of Europe's most unexpected and underappreciated culinary destinations: Germany, home to a whole galaxy of Michelin stars, as well as a countrywide appreciation for solid, no-nonsense, high-quality food. Bread in Germany is a true treat, dense and hearty and delicious. Sausages are elevated to an art form. Beer, of course, is a national passion, but this is also the home of some fantastic wines, in particular the country's Rieslings, which Germany has built its reputation on. With many of world's great rivers flowing through Germany – the Rhine, the Danube and the Main – this is the perfect country to experience from the water, savouring a vast array of regional flavours in comfort and style.

Don't miss: Aside from Germany's schnitzels and sausages, the country's beer and wine scene has gained international attention. Travellers should sample the local Rhine Valley wines on board their ship, or taste the local beers and snacks on a tour of Cologne.

CHINA

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China boasts a phenomenal culinary history, with recipes and traditions that stretch back thousands of years. Today, the country is a melting pot both literally and figuratively, a place where it's possible to dine on the best of local cuisine, as well as enjoying more familiar flavours from home (with large cities offering excellent international cuisine). Of the local Chinese dishes, perhaps the most famous is Peking duck, that perfectly roasted poultry served in light pancakes with cucumber, spring onion and hoisin sauce. Equally popular, however, are the likes of dim-sum-style dumplings, as well as classic rice and noodle dishes.

Don't miss: You'll discover plenty of amazing food in China – however, rarely will it be served in a more memorable location than the exclusive, sumptuous lunch APT guests are treated to in front of the Great Wall of China in Badaling. The food is fantastic and the drinks are free-flowing, but they're complements, really, to the sight of one of the world's true wonders just across the table.

INDIA

Everyone has heard of curry. However, to borrow a phrase – curry ain't curry. This isn't just one dish, or even one set of dishes. "Curry" is a catch-all name for what you will discover is a highly sophisticated local cuisine in India, a cuisine that changes with each region you visit, that is always spicy but not always hot, that is packed with flavour and reliably cooked with passion. Food is everywhere you look in India: it's peddled in the marketplaces and sold on the streets; it's created in fine-dining establishments and served in hotels. It draws influence from around the world, but has a flavour that's always its own. 

Don't miss: Though a cooking class is a great way to learn about the culture and history of food in India, the best way to enjoy the creations of the experts, as well as to immerse yourself in Rajasthani tradition, is with an experience exclusive to APT guests: an evening with Indian royalty in Jaipur, where you'll don traditional attire and dine on local cuisine with an aristocratic family. 

Unforgettable Person

Luke Nguyen – APT Ambassador

As an APT ambassador, celebrity chef Luke Nguyen counts hosting guests in his restaurant in Saigon, Vietnam House, and cooking studio, GRAIN, as a highlight of his profession. "I feel honoured to be able to showcase and educate on the local cuisine and dishes so that travellers leave better understanding the significance of food in Vietnamese culture." Next up, he's looking forward to leading a tour in France that will showcase the synergies between Vietnamese and French cuisine. "It combines a Paris city stay where I will host a cooking class and a very special dining experience; and then we'll board the AmaDolce in Bordeaux for an incredible river cruise where I will accompany the group and prepare a special dinner in the Saint Emilion wine region." Guests can expect to experience the country through the award-winning chef's eyes – cuisines, culture and incredible sights, or as Luke says, "a destination discovery".

This article has been produced in association with APT.

Discover the spice of life through the amazing cuisine Europe has to offer. Uncover food experiences that your taste buds – and all your other senses – will never forget. Everything is taken care of in an unforgettable luxury journey with APT. For more information visit www.aptouring.com.au/traveller, call 1300 290 669 or contact your local travel agent.

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