How local cuisine can help you fall in love with your new country

How local cuisine can help you fall in love with your new country

26th November, 2012

Food is about much more than simple sustenance. The expats I speak to often remark that food is a very effective way to familiarise yourself with your new home country on a fundamental level, helping you integrate via your emotions, with the help of your taste buds!

Like every aspect of expat life, it’s usually a good idea to research local cuisine beforehand and arrive there confident, knowing what to expect. We release a fresh batch of special expat Country Guides every month, with recent additions including Sweden, Jordan and Ghana, and I thought it would be interesting to explore the traditional cuisine offered by these dramatically different countries.

Traditional cuisine in Sweden

Typical Swedish food involves dairy products, sweet, spiced and savoury breads, berries, beef, pork, seafood and fish. The country’s cuisine is traditionally split north/south. In the far north reindeer and other game-based dishes are popular, many of which have ancient origins in the local Sami culture. In the south fresh vegetables play a bigger role with gravalax, herring, crayfish and meatballs in gravy all firm favourites.

Meat is often served with preserves including lingonberry jam, a little like cranberry sauce. The Swedes adore hot and cold fruit soups, which are thick and nourishing, and they have a long tradition of making superb biscuits, pastries and buns. Smörgåsbord is a much-loved tradition as is the Christmas julbord, another wonderful buffet-style treat.

Here’s a link to a blog featuring all sorts of delicious Swedish dishes.

Typical dishes in Jordan

Fresh, healthy Jordanian cuisine includes treats like Halloumi, a light cheese made from either goat or sheep milk. Flat pita-style bread is the norm and rice is a popular staple. Flat breads form the basis of many dishes, used to serve beans, olives, lamb, chicken, yogurt, fruits and vegetables.

The national dish, Mansaf, consists of lamb cooked in dry yogurt, served on flat bread with seasoned rice, eaten to mark various celebrations and events. Appetisers, called mezze or muqabalat, are a little feast in themselves, with lots of small dishes providing an amazing variety of interesting flavours and textures.

Here’s a link to a comprehensive list of typical Jordanian dishes.

Local food in Ghana

Ghanaian cuisine is varied and exciting, influenced by multiple ethnic groups. They enjoy a wide variety of starchy staples including cassava, plantain, millet and sorghum to name a few, all exotic and tasty. You’ll find rich soups and sauces with plenty of fish, meat or mushrooms. Yam, maize and beans play a large part in traditional dishes, as do peanuts and cocoyam. Fried whitebait, smoked fish and crayfish are served frequently. Ampesie is a dish made from boiled yam and semi-ripe plantain accompanied with peanut soup and the ubiquitous Red Red is a colourful scarlet and orange bean stew served with ripe fried plantain. You will also find an array of extremely hot and spicy pepper sauces made from raw red and green chillies, onions and tomatoes.

Here’s a link to a detailed list of recipes from Ghana:

See more in-depth expat country guides For more information about making a success of your move abroad, why not download our free eBook, The New Expat It covers medical considerations, family matters, accommodation issues, financial arrangements and plenty more to make your expat life easier.

What is your favourite culinary discovery?

We would love to hear from you if you have discovered an unforgettable and truly delicious recipe in your new home country. You can either leave a comment below, connect with us on @now_health on Twitter or on the Now Health Facebook page.


Image source: Risotto alla zucca by Piccola Mela

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Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

Contact Alison Massey

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