Whether you live for culinary adventure, or unfamiliar items on your plate make you nervous, trying new foods is a worthwhile endeavor. But even avid foodies don't have the time to try everything.
So how can you prioritize your food bucket list?
Enter, "1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die," a new book that presents the globe's must-have foods into one master list of the best dishes, ingredients, restaurants, markets, books and movies, that everyone should experience.
To whet your appetite, author Mimi Sheraton, former New York Times restaurant critic and award-winning cookbook author, shares five food must-haves originating from five regions of the world:
White Asparagus - Europe
Milder in flavor than the green variety, white asparagus is highly prized in Europe, while in the U.S. it has only recently come into favor. A harbinger of spring, asparagus is celebrated in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where special asparagus menus are featured in restaurants.
For an Italian approach, serve cold with lemon juice and olive oil. If you prefer elaborate flavors, serve with a Hollandaise sauce of egg yolks, lemon juice, butter and nutmeg.
Egg Cream - United States
A New York original, egg creams contain neither eggs nor cream. A once ubiquitous street treat, this beverage is a lot harder to come by now.
Make your own at home with a squirt of chocolate syrup, followed by a shot of seltzer and a quick stir, then add a trickle of whole milk and stir vigorously while blasting in vibrant shots of soda to create a frothy, creamy concoction.
Tagine - North African
Like the pans Americans call "casseroles," a tagine is both a cooking vessel and the stew cooked within. A tagine is a deep, wide terra-cotta bowl, with a high-peaked conical cover that directs and concentrates heat. Meats, poultry or fish are slow cooked with various vegetables over direct fire or charcoal, absorbing aromatic spices such as saffron, cinnamon and ginger.
To serve, tagines are fitted into colorfully woven baskets and passed around to guests, along with rice, couscous or fresh, hot bread.
Congee - Asia
Like Westerners, the Chinese believe in starting the day with a hearty meal. Congee, a creamy rice porridge, is a favorite. Variations found throughout Asia are sold everywhere, from street stands to dim sum palaces. To prepare, cook short grain white rice until it approaches mush, then serve with a variety of toppings, such as spicy, pickled vegetables, dried fish, preserved eggs and tofu.
Vegemite - Australia
Australian children cry for this caramelized spread made of brewer's yeast and vegetables, as American tots do for peanut butter and jelly. Spread on buttered toast or bread as a snack or a sandwich, or on biscuits as a special treat at teatime, vegemite may not be pretty, but it is one of the world's most iconic foods and definitely worth a try.
More information about the book can be found at www.1000Foods.com.
By being a little more adventurous with what goes on your dinner plate, you can expand your horizons and explore the whole world.