7 culinary wonders from around the world

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If you're fortunate enough to live in place where many cuisines are available, or you've done a bit of travelling, you might already be familiar with some of these magnificent mouthfuls. The world is chock-full of flavour; these are just a few to whet your appetite and get you to try something different.


Iberian Ham

You've tried Italian Prosciutto and, perhaps, Serrano ham from Spain, and they're delicious, but Iberian ham - jamón ibérico - from Spain is truly one to track down. Cured the same way as the others - salted, pressed and hung to dry for up to two years - the difference with Iberian ham is the pig and feed: black Iberian pigs are free to forage for their diet of acorns. The resulting flesh is more marbled and far richer than other hams.

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Most everyone has tried smoked salmon. But have you tried gravlax? Cured with salt, sugar, and dill, this method lends a more delicate and fruitier flavour to the fish. It's not a dish to serve with cream cheese; just serve it on thin black bread, or by itself with a light mustard sauce.

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Most of us grew up eating fish cooked one way or another - whether battered, broiled, baked, or in a stew - but sushi, good sushi, was a revelation. No matter how often you eat it, good sushi is always a revelation. The fresh taste of the sea, combined with slightly sweet rice, makes for a meal that is satisfying on so many different levels.

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Everyone loves ice cream, and nearly everyone who's enjoyed gelato loves it more than ice cream. They're simply not the same thing. Although much the same ingredients are used, gelato uses less butterfat so it's lighter and doesn't coat your tongue as heavily; this allows the flavour to be more intense. Gelato is also richer in flavour because it has less air incorporated into it, making it denser, and is served warmer than ice cream. It's difficult to savour any food that's too hot or too cold. Gelato is just right.

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Do you remember your first curry? Your palette might then not have been sophisticated enough to identify most of the spices and herbs, but you probably never had anything so flavourful before. If you're making a curry at home, buy a tin of powder if you must, but you're much better off investing in a spice grinder and a good Indian cookbook. Mind the peppers.

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Tagine is a method of braising meat - usually lamb or chicken - with ingredients that will make your tongue spin. The scent of spices, fruit and nuts permeate the tender meat and, when the lid is lifted, the air. You'll find yourself in Casablanca after just a few perfumed bites.

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Yes, it's originally Italian, but New York style pizza has been the zenith of this baked dish for over a century. But even in this city not all pizzas are the same, you'll need to find the places that still use wood or coal burning ovens. A thin crust with a slightly charred bottom, fresh cheese, tangy tomato sauce, maybe some mushroom or onion or sausage or . . . let's face it, the topping choices are endless.

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