With the power to evoke memories, taste and smell are two of the most underrated senses. Whereas a photograph might remind you of what you saw on vacation, one waft of fresh pastry or the burst of berries as you bite into a tart can elicit an even stronger response that instantly transports you to another time and place.
If you've been dreaming of dining in a vine-covered restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean or wandering the markets in Chang Mai, Thailand, but can't take the PTO, we've got the next best thing. Here, we spotlight five of the best recipes from around the world that'll transport your taste buds to happier times. From a strawberry-and-peach tart reminiscent of a treat from a patisserie in Paris to spiced corn cobs that you might find at a street stall in Mexico, these morsels basically taste like vacation. Leave your passport at home—these recipes will satiate your wanderlust.
The Recipe: Linguine Scoglio. Sarah Tuck of From the Kitchen created this recipe after returning from a trip to Italy. "I loved all of Italy … but my favorite spot of all was the Amalfi Coast. Tanned, laughing young men scooting past on Vespas, sunshine, sea air, lemons and vegetable gardens, bobbing boats and fishermen. Heaven. I would like to share a little of that experience with you through food here—this scoglio pasta tastes of the sea," she writes.
The Hero Ingredient: It's hard to pick one hero flavor when there are so many seafood ingredients jostling for the top spot. Clams, mussels, and king prawns all add to the flavor.
The Pro Tip: Tuck recommends eating "in the company of good friends with wine, abandon and plenty of fresh bread to mop up the juices!"
The Recipe: Honey Strawberry Apricot Tart. No one does pastries quite like the French. Their fearless use of butter and glutenous ingredients means their patisseries are bursting with delectable treats that put our bakeries to shame. This tart gives you a hint of Paris at home.
The Hero Ingredient: Apricots. Foodie Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest crafted this recipe to show off the best fruits in season during summer. Head to your local farmers market for fresh, organic apricots that are bursting with flavor.
The Pro Tip: "This tart is very easily customizable to the fruits you love," she says. "Try swapping in peaches, plums, nectarines or cherries for the apricots and for the strawberries, just about any other berry would work great!"
The Recipe: Grilled Avocado Street Corn. Be transported to the smoky street stalls in Mexico with this easy-to-make corn recipe.
The Hero Ingredient: Chives. "They are the best herbs to finish a dish in my humble opinion," gushes Gaby Dalkin of What's Gaby Cooking. This recipe also includes bacon and mayo.
The Pro Tip: Add these to the grill at your next al fresco event. Squeeze a wedge of lime over the top just before you bite into the corn.
The Recipe: Greek Salad. It might seem cliché, but when it's made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, nothing beats a Greek salad on a hot summer day.
The Hero Ingredient: Feta cheese. Try to find the best, creamiest feta possible to add extra authentic flavor to this classic Greek dish.
The Pro Tip: Don't feel inclined to add fancy salad dressing. The beauty of this recipe is the simplicity—a drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil and a crack of pepper is all you need.
The Recipe: Chicken Satay With Almond Dipping Sauce. If you love Thai food, you need to add Chang Mai to your culinary bucket list. The city is chock-full of fragrant food markets selling boiling pots of khao soi (the regional soup dish) and chicken satay skewers.
The Hero Ingredient: Lemongrass. Plus, notes of fish sauce, cilantro, ginger, and almond butter make this simple dish taste similar to the original.
The Pro Tip: "It’s easy to take this snack and make it a meal," writes Heidi Larsen of Foodie Crush. "I always serve it with my Fresh and Easy Vietnamese Noodle Salad and sweet and sour Asian cucumbers. So good, and almost like being back on the sidewalk, smelling, and eating, and dipping, and loving each and every bite."
What's the best meal you've had on vacation? Have you managed to replicate it at home?