My 5 Favorite Food Destinations

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My friend Anna over at Bangkok Girl Blog tagged me in a challenge to name my 5 favorite food destinations and I have to say, it was a bit difficult to narrow down! I was never really into taking pictures of my meals before the era of the iPhone, so I don't have many food photos in the places I would consider as my favorite food destinations. It's highly likely that I was just too busy eating to take any pictures. Who wants to wait?! Nowadays, I have to endure death glares and eye rolls from Casey every time I snatch a meal out of his hands before he can get a bite and ruin my perfect shot. But good food photos or not, I definitely love to chow down and there are so many places around the world that I'd love to go back to just to eat myself into a food-induced coma. Here are my top 5:

1. Italy

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If I could only eat one type of cuisine for the rest of my life, it would without-a-single-doubt be Italian. Pizza. Pasta. Bread. Pretty much sums up my essential food groups right there. Oh, and can't forget about gelato. Or wine. Did I mention pizza? But really, all of the ingredients in Italy are so fresh that even the simplest dishes are elevated to the next level, and you can actually taste the love and care that goes into every last bite.

Of all the places I've been in this big, beautiful world, Italy still remains my favorite. It's a combination of the romance in the air, the breathtaking views, the storied streets and the famous sites ~ but most of all, it's because of the food.

2. Puerto Rico

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Confession: the top and bottom photos here aren't actually from Puerto Rico, but they were taken at a very authentic restaurant in a predominately Puerto Rican neighborhood on the west side of Chicago. I loved the food so much on my 2010 trip to the gorgeous island that I had to seek it out when I got back. First of all, Puerto Ricans deep fry just about everything and top it off with their signature sauce, mayoketchup. As an avid sauce lover and advocate of deep-fried anything, this was a total win. 

Second of all, MOFONGO. This special dish is typically made from fried plantains mashed together with broth, garlic, olive oil and pork cracklings and served in the wooden pilón used to make it, as you can see in the second photo of Natalie and me at the famous Restaurante Raíces in Old San Juan. Of course, we'd already devoured it! That's mofongo in the last photo as well in a variation stuffed with vegetables and covered in stewed chicken that was almost as good as the original.

3. Amsterdam 

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Maybe the food tasted so good because of my constant case of the munchies, but really I think it was just pretty damn good. Nobody does pancakes quite like the Dutch and I couldn't get enough of all their savory options. Loaded up with the toppings of your choosing, they're perfect for any meal of the day. 

I also loved the fact that you can find just about any cuisine in Amsterdam and rather than sitting down for long meals, you can pop in and grab a snack at any of the numerous hole-in-the-wall shops while bike riding around the city and café hopping. Just be careful: some of the treats here may induce certain mind-altering effects. ;)

4. Spain

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My mouth starts watering simply at the thought of Spanish food. Serve me up a big ol' plate of paella any day and I'll be one happy girl. Cooked over an open fire, this rice-based delicacy delivers a smoky taste that combines perfectly with a mix of spices from fresh rosemary to sweet paprika and saffron.

I'm also a huge sucker for tapas, especially when you include croquettes and patatas bravas. The idea of taste-testing small bites of an assortment of dishes is a brilliant concept to me ~ it's an explosion of flavors all in one meal! Best when washed down with a large glass of cava.

5. Thailand

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Last, but certainly not least, I had to include my current home. I first fell in love with Thai cuisine while studying abroad in Australia in 2011, but I had no idea what was actually in store for me here. Old favorites like pad see ew and red curry have been replaced by new delights not typically found in Americanized Thai restaurants, or maybe I just didn't know what to look for! Tom kha gai and pork laab are heavily on rotation these days.

There always seems to be something cooking in Thailand and the street food scene is like nothing I've ever seen. We're spoiled with delicious eats on every corner and an overwhelming choice of top-notch restaurants. Excuse me while I continue happily eating my way around this wonderful place.