Autumn is fueled by cozy knits, scenic foliage, cabin getaways, and food–so much delicious food. This hearty culinary season builds our winter bodies while we prep for holiday feasts and indulge in fall favorites. Around the world, autumn is a time to come together and enjoy the local bounty of the universal language that is food. October may just be the global height of fall foodie delights, with each country and region celebrating its own unique in-season fruits and recipes of the land.
From the harvests of more well-known cuisine staples like olives in Italy to some more obscure culinary delicacies unearthed on the opposite end of the globe, there’s one thing for sure… we’re hungry. Whether used to celebrate a festival or a rare delicacy, they’re all at their very peak in the month of November. Food is the best when it’s fresh, of course. And we’re going to tell you where to find all the worldly fall goodies.
Think Carmen Sandiego but with food. And yes, there will be pumpkins.
PUMPKIN IN SLOVENIA
Pumpkin, as promised. This seasonal squash variety is a fall icon and Slovenia might just be the place to eat it. Not only is it fresh in the wild, grown locally on farms or by restaurants around the country themselves, but it’s also used in so many ways it’ll make your head spin (and tastebuds rejoice). Slovenia snags the ‘most creative’ award with this harvest-y fruit and fall icon. Drizzle some pumpkin seed oil over your salad in lieu of olive oil—you won’t regret it. Warm-up with homemade pumpkin soup sprinkled with, you guessed it, roasted pumpkin seeds, and top off your pumpkin feast with some pumpkin ice cream. Though available year-round, the culinary versatility of the pumpkin shines through the most in its starring season of autumn.
TRUFFLES IN ITALY
Italian truffles are most certainly a sought after culinary item due to their exquisite taste and ability to enhance pretty much any dish—and there’s always the added perk of feeling fancy while you eat them. But the white truffle, in particular, is in all its glorious glory in the month of November. It’s not only in season but revered at festivals and fairs around the country. Fall is considered the best time to eat in general in Italy, and who are we to disagree? The central and northern regions are riddled with fests paying homage to fall harvest foods like truffles, chestnuts, and wild mushrooms. Umbria and Piemonte host the majority of these foodie fairs, with the Festival del Tartufo Bianco in Alba specifically celebrating the white truffle during the first two weeks of the month.
Bonus: ‘Tis also the season for chestnuts! Look out for these gems while in Italy in the autumn.
WHITEBAIT IN NEW ZEALAND
It’s no secret that New Zealand is a land of wild beauty, so it should also be of little surprise that these magical ecosystems are home to a seafood delicacy. Whitebait, a tiny fish that is very hard to catch during a short season from mid-August to the end of November, is a fall treasure. Although these small fish populate many of New Zealand’s rivers, they aren’t easy little suckers to capture. The art of catching them requires a net and a whole lot of patience. The South Island’s rivers on the west coast are host to the largest amount of whitebait and a good place to start. How do you eat them? In patty form, of course. Make sure to try the well-known whitebait fritter when you see it grace a menu. You know it’ll be super fresh in November.
GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS PASTRY IN SWEDEN
The Swedes love their sweets, so most festive occasions have a corresponding treat (as if we need an excuse for dessert). This specific pastry is a sponge cake decorated with marzipan or chocolate and donning a silhouette of Gustavus, a 17th-century Swedish Monarch who was killed on November sixth during the Battle of Lützen. To really get close to the source in early November, head to the city of Gothenburg, founded by the king himself. When the cake was created by a Swedish baker in the early 1900s, it was originally made of chocolate and lemon with buttercream and then dipped in glaze. Today there are many variations, but you can always spot this particular pastry by the Gustavus-shaped chocolate adorning the top of the confection.
CAPCHI DE SETAS IN PERU
This is a seasonal twist on the classic Peruvian dish specific to the city of Cusco, Capchi (or Kapchi) de Habas. In November, wild Andean mushrooms called setas (or zetas) are readily available and are a welcome addition to this traditional dish. This type of wild mushroom grows strictly during the rainy season, which kicks off in November and lasts until April. Capchi is a vegetarian stew or soup consisting of mushrooms, potatoes, fresh fava beans, and milk served with rice.
Bonus: Tamale, or suckling pig, is big for All Saints Day or Feast of the Deceased festivals in November.
PAN DE MUERTOS IN MEXICO
You had us at pan. Carb-lovers rejoice–this sweet, round bread is specifically baked for the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico occurring in November. Bakeries all over cities like Oaxaca and Mexico City produce loaves upon loaves of this ‘bread of the dead.’ In Mexico City, baking the best pan de muertos has become a bit of a challenge, spawning all different variations with seemingly every type of flour. The more traditional versions are crafted with chocolate, while others are sweetened with ingredients like agave and cream. To enjoy like a local, dip yours in coffee or hot chocolate…sweet indeed.
FIGS IN CALIFORNIA, USA
These sweet fruits are last picked in October, but only finish naturally ripening up in November. Figs are a versatile food that can be used in about a million different ways. California is responsible for producing nearly all of the nation’s fresh and dried figs in several varieties and, well, that’s a reason to feast. They’re home-grown goodness in fruit form and in fact quite healthy thanks to being loaded with calcium.
MATSUTAKE DOBIN MUSHI IN JAPAN
Say that five times fast. Matsutke dobin mushi is a mushroom soup that’s been made specifically in autumn with these prized (and expensive) mushrooms. While it’s traditionally cooked at home, restaurants offering seasonal menus will have the soup available, as well. The mushrooms, harvested between September and mid-November, grow under pine trees and actually give off the aroma of pine when cooked. According to the country’s cultural beliefs, the scent actually stimulates the appetite. The Japanese say that fall is the season for eating and we’d have to agree, so soup up!
Bonus: Shinmai, or newly harvested rice, is a big November time food.
Double bonus: Kaki (Japanese persimmon) is a fruit that grows ample in the fall.
ALL SAINTS DAY TREATS IN SPAIN
Because dessert, obviously. Specially-made marzipan and stuffed donuts pepper Spain’s pastry shops for All Saints Day on November 1st. Each city or region has its own version of the sweets, making the month a solid time to try every last kind…you know, for research. Madrid puts out huesos de santos stuffed with a wide range of fillings like chocolate, coconut, or the traditional egg yolk custard. Buñuelos de viento, a donut hole of sorts, can be found in most areas and are filled with chocolate, custard, cream, or almost anything you can imagine, really. In Cordoba, gachas de leche is a popular pudding treat flavored with cinnamon and anisette. Catalonia is known for panellets, comprised of almonds, potatoes, sugar, and pine nuts and usually enjoyed with wine. Twist our arms, Spain.
Bonus: Pomegranate season starts in November too.
TURSHIA IN BULGARIA
A pre-winter staple in Bulgaria, this salad-esque dish is a smorgasbord of cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, parsley, and peppers marinated in a dressing of salt and vinegar for a couple of weeks before being served. These are the general ingredients, but recipes can change come October or November depending on different family traditions. The hearty mix of harvested pickled vegetables is a clear sign that winter is coming. It’s usually stored in jars for safekeeping during the winter months, ready whenever you want to crack one open to pair with the main meat dishes.
What are your favorite fall foods from your country?
Header photo by Maddy Baker.