Published October 07, 2013
The world's 7 most dangerous food destinations
The world's 7 most dangerous food destinations
Should you be curious, or find yourself in one of these places, consider that you may find some of the world’s most underrated great food.
With an ongoing civil war, violence, and threat of terror attacks and bombings, visiting Syria is highly dangerous, and should be avoided. But despite the current unrest, Syria is still famed for its culture and cuisine, and in 2007 the capital Aleppo was awarded with a cultural gastronomy prize by the International Academy of Gastronomy in Paris.
The regional cuisine blends Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors, and includes many varieties of kebab Halabi, or spiced kebab, traditional mezze dishes such as hummus and baba ghanoush, and za'atar, a dried herb and spice mixture, often eaten by dipping it with bread in olive oil.
According to Khaled Yacoub Oweis, writing for Reuters, the best place to enjoy za'atar is restaurant Qubrusi in Aleppo, which "is a favorite among locals." Another restaurant well worth a visit is Beit Sissi, rated as "Aleppo’s finest" by Lonely Planet. Located in a restored house from the 17th century, the restaurant servers French and Syrian cuisine, including items such as sujuk, spicy pork sausage rolled in bread, and ratatouille.
You should really not be in Yemen, even on a visit. The U.S State Department is clear with the message, as terrorist activities and civil unrest have pushed the security threat level to "extremely high." But for daredevils, Yemen can also provide plenty of unique food experiences, distinct from the more commonly known Middle Eastern flavors. Simple stews and breads might not sound intriguing, but spices such as ginger, cardamom, and aniseed give Yemeni food a unique aromatic touch.
Each region has a slightly different version of the national dish, saltah, a meat stew with chiles, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs, and usually mixed with potatoes, scrambled eggs, or even rice. Chicken, goat, and fish are other typical proteins, and dairy products, such as butter and cheese, are rarely used. The capital Sana’a is home to several restaurants, from high-end to budget eats. Freelance journalist Adam Baron, based in Sana’a, recommends Matam Taiz for the peculiar Yemeni specialty aseed — a doughy dumpling of fish meal, covered in gravy.
Côte D’Ivoire is yet another country stricken by civil war and political unrest, and its capital, Abidjan, is recognized as the third most dangerous city in the world. Street crime, robbery, and car-jackings are common here. But when it comes to finding a taste of traditional local cuisine, the country has plenty to offer. Good places to sample the food are maquis, outdoor markets unique to Côte d'Ivoire. To be considered a maquis , the restaurant must sell braised food — commonly chicken or fish, served with onions and tomatoes. Cara Waterfall, writer of the blog bellejournal, recommends a maquis called Chez Rokia, where the owner, a woman called Rokia, serves people cold beer and dishes such as poulet braise, grilled chicken marinated in Dijon mustard and garlic.
With ongoing bombings and terror attacks, the U.S. State Department recommends avoiding all travel to Somalia. However, the capital Mogadishu had been going through a significant change toward becoming a safer travel destination, with new top restaurants opening up in the city, a recent backlash indicated that the terror threat is still present. A car bomb that killed 18 people in the capital also destroyed one of the new restaurants, opened by native restaurateur Ahmed Jama. Jama had opened his restaurant The Village in an effort to showcase the great cuisine and culture of his home country, serving traditional Somali dishes.
At the moment, the U.S. State Department advises travelers not to visit Lebanon, as the risk of "spontaneous upsurge in violence remains." But while the potential dangers of traveling to are not to be taken lightly, neither are the culinary temptations that the country has to offer.
Lebanese food is often considered the most familiar Middle Eastern cuisine, with traditional dishes such as falafel and shawarma sold in countries around the world. But in the capital Beirut, a wide range of upscale restaurants have made the city a sought-out destination for fine dining and a buzzing nightlife.
At Lux, accessory designer and restaurateur Johnny Farah serves Mediterranean fare, and ingredients are harvested at his own organic farm in the Lebanese mountains. And after establishing locations in London and Paris, Franco-North African Momo opened in Beirut, serving modern and elegant versions of mezze; the restaurant also arranges popular events such as dance parties at night.
The latest Travel Warning for Afghanistan warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan, as the risk of kidnapping and terror attacks still remains high. But when it comes to food, Afghanistan has plenty of flavorful dishes to offer. The country is known for its variety of kebabs and pulao — rice cooked with meat, chicken, or vegetables. In the Bamiyan region, the main bazaar in Shahr-e Nau, has a good variety of food vendors offering traditional cuisine such as kebabs, pulao, and the beef and bean soup shorwa.
Though the Iraq war that started in 2003 has officially ended, the U.S Department of State reports that some violence and threats against U.S. citizens persist, and U.S. citizens visiting Iraq are still at risk for kidnapping. Still, if visiting Iraq, the cuisine is definitely worth trying. Strongly influenced by the cuisine in neighboring countries Iran and Turkey, common foods in Iraq are beef and lamb dishes, such as kebabs, as well as stuffed vegetables, and filo-dough pastries.
Iraqi Touch in the city Erbil serves homemade Iraqi food in a "unique and modern environment" showcasing the best of Iraq’s classic cuisine with menu items such as beef borek — ground beef stuffed in filo dough — and different gravies served with rice, such as curry potato gravy.
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