Italian cafe

One of the greatest joys of travel is enjoying new cuisine and discovering foods that you didn’t even know existed. From the tropical fruits of the South Pacific to the clafoutis of Paris, the salty sea fare of New England to the heavenly fruit pavlova found down under in Australia, the world is your flavor oyster – so put some wasabi and fresh lemon juice on that sucker and gulp it down.

Whether you consider yourself a gourmet, gourmand, foodie or just someone who really loves to eat, there’s a flavor destination out there calling your taste buds, just waiting to stimulate your senses in ways you can’t even imagine. Plan a flavor trip to one of the following food heavens and treat yourself to the holiday that you deserve.

1. Thailand: Known as the best culinary destination in all of Southeast Asia, in Thailand you’ll indulge in the freshest seafood and a dazzling array of tropical fruits. Whether you eat hot Pad Thai on the streets of Bangkok or simple grilled tuna beachside on the island of Ko Tao, the fresh flavors of Thai cuisine will illuminate your senses and punch up your palate. For a deeper understanding of Thai food, you can also sign up for a range of cooking classes and even complete culinary tours throughout the country in cultural destinations like Chiang Mai.

2. France: From the roadside cherry trees and lavender ice cream of Provence to the fresh cheeses and apple pastries of Normandy, France is a food lover’s dream destination. High quality produce abounds throughout the country, and even the cheapest generic chocolate on the shelves of Parisian grocery stores is far superior to almost every brand sold in America. In France, meals are a sacred ritual and eating is an art. Wander through local organic markets, indulge in multi-course dinners in Michelin-rated restaurants or sign up for a short course at the famous cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu.

3. Italy: There’s a reason that Italian cuisine has crossed oceans to appear on menus in nearly every country in the world. Simple yet sophisticated, the easy dishes of pasta, polenta and fresh seafood that Italy is known for offer a pleasurable eating experience of exquisite delight. Venture to the Italian motherland to understand what mealtime – and life – is all about, from the flat, floppy pizzas of Naples to the heavily sauced spaghetti Bolognese and the fresh mussels served canal-side in Venice. Take your taste buds on a tour of the country, learn how to truly savor the wines of the Tuscan countryside or sign up for a gelato-making class in Florence.

4. Japan: For a true flavor adventure, head to the intriguing island of Japan and seek beyond sushi to discover the incredible variety of the country’s healthy cuisine. With an outstanding diversity of seafood dishes, including some that are alive on your plate, Japan offers a culinary experience like no other on the planet. Visit a huge fish markets with over 400 varieties of seafood, sign up for a cooking class in Kyoto and try the poisonous pufferfish if you dare.

Image: The Wolf