Fresh figs (Flickr: Monica Arellano-Ongpin)
List 18 June

11 things to eat before you die

Raw fish at dawn, potato plucked hot from a campfire and sweet tea, heady with fresh mint. Olivia Haughton explores some of the tastes you should pack your bags for

1. Baklava dripping with honey

Flickr: balise42 - Isabelle Palatin

Where? Turkey

Why? This sticky treat was historically the preserve of the wealthy and dates back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. Now visitors to Turkey and the surrounding countries can indulge whatever the bulge or strain of the purse strings. And what an indulgence it is.

For the perfect experience find a secluded spot overlooking the Aegean Sea and bite into the freshly baked layers of crunchy filo pastry, chopped nuts and syrup; enjoy the sensation of the sweet honey trickling down your chin.

2. Swimmingly fresh sushi

Flickr: eliazar - Eliazar Parra CardenasWhere? Japan, where else?

Why? Tsukiji fish market is world famous for its dawn tuna auction. Lining the market are dozens of stalls offering the freshest delights of the sea. Watch the drama of the auction unfold then tuck into a breakfast of sushi as the sun rises. Let the catch of the day melt on your tongue; a culinary treat second to none.

3. A fig plucked straight from the tree

Flickr: Monica Arellano-OngpinWhere? Middle East

Why? The fig is one of the oldest fruits we know. As well its crucial role in the bible, the fig was eaten 2,500 years BC by the Sumerians and seen as sacred to the Romans. At its best the fig is sweet, soft and succulent. An indulgence worthy of its biblical heritage.

The fruit tree can be found growing all over the world but its native home in the Middle East is the perfect place to sample this delicate fruit, plucked fresh from the tree, if you're able. It's also thought to hold aphrodisiac qualities so is the perfect fruit for lovers to share.

4. Smoky baked potato cooked in a campfire

Flickr: paulyliojaWhere? Anywhere in the world

Why? The simplest of suppers is such a joy when camping, particularly if you've pitched up in a secluded spot. Once you've built a substantial fire bury your pricked potatoes wrapped in double layers of foil under hot coals and leave for 45 minutes to an hour. Timings will vary depending on heat and size of potato but you'll know they're ready when the skin is crispy and the inside soft. It's always nice to have on hand a knob of butter to melt into the fluffy potato. A pinch of salt and a little cheese are added bonuses.

5. Saccharine sweet mint tea

Filckr: jonl1973Where? Morocco

Why? A steaming sweet tea of fresh mint, sipped from a small sticky glass while overlooking Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech is a treat that can't quite be replicated outside of north Africa.

For the perfect cup, watch in anticipation as the hot liquor is poured from a height and returned to the pot several times before the glass is offered in your direction. What could be better refreshment after a fruitful journey into the hot and dusty bustle of the souks?

6. Sweet or salty? Choose your lassi

Flickr: ampersandyslexia - Scott DexterWhere? India

Why? It's India's favourite drink and is thought to have numerous health benefits, but most importantly, it tastes really good.

Traditionally salted lassi is the preferred drink and is made from a blend of yoghurt, salt and spices but many now drink a sweet lassi made with sugar or fruit. Street vendors all over the country serve this drink from stalls and it's a treat not to be missed. Be sure to ask for it without water and ice though.

7. A summertime clotted cream tea

Flickr: Shane Global Language CentresWhere? England

Why? The cream tea is about as British as tea time comes. A large fruit-studded scone accompanied by thick clotted cream and strawberry or raspberry jam, preferably made locally and packed full of fruit, is a real treat. A mouthful of dense scone layered high with cream and jam and washed down with a cup of Earl Grey is the best way to enjoy the classic cream tea.

You may want to forgo a full lunch or supper though as this is one for indulging in at about 3pm

8. Salty, chewy biltong

Flickr: WmJRWhere? South Africa

Why? Cured strips of chewy biltong are synonymous with South African food and provide the traveller with an ideal snack. Born out of necessity, biltong evolved in the Dutch settler community to solve the problem of storing meat in the hot climate. It's now enjoyed all over the world, but is best eaten on its home turf.

The meat is marinated in a mix of vinegar and spices then hung to dry – preference dictates how long for. Decide how wet you'd like yours then tuck in to an energy boosting bite or enjoy in a stew or salad.

9. My big fat Greek octopus

Flickr: Martijn NijenhuisWhere? On the Greek coast or islands

Why? It might not look very appetising to the unfamiliar eye, but there's a reason that octopus is such a highly valued part of Greek cuisine. A properly prepared octopus is as tender as butter and, when grilled, is encased in a deliciously crisp skin. This is Greek seafood at its most traditional. Order from a little taverna overlooking the sea and watch out for the fishermen's lines laden with the tentacled creatures drying in the Mediterranean sun.

10. What's your beef?

Flickr: Marissa StrnistWhere? Argentina

Why? Argentinian beef is considered some of the best in the world, in fact, the two words might as well come hand-in-hand. The renowned grass-fed cattle are full of flavour and brilliant when cooked on an asado (barbeque), turned just once.

Alternatively, visit a local parrillada (grilled meat restaurant) to sample the beef of one of the world's largest producers. Make sure you ask for some chimichurri, a sauce made from herbs, garlic and vinegar and traditional piquant accompaniment to the meat.

11. Fresh coconut water

Flickr: Daniele PesaresiWhere? On a beach in the tropics

Why? There's nothing like the first sip of fresh coconut water at the end of a day's exploring. The light and gently sweet juice from a young green coconut can be drunk straight from the shell. The soft meaty flesh is slightly slimy but oddly pleasant and completely different to that of the more mature brown hairy fruit. But it is the liquid that is the real prize. For the best experience visit a street vendor; watch them take a large knife to the bulb and in a couple of seconds and two or three strokes create a neat drinking hole in the notoriously tough shell. Take a stroll along an idyllic beach with coconut in hand.

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