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Travel agents name five great spots to chow down around the world

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View of Rome from the rooftop restaurant of the Mediterraneo Hotel. Photo courtesy of Bettoja Hotels.

Where’s the best place in the world to go for local cuisine that’ll knock your socks off? Anywhere in Italy, according to a survey of top-producing members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Nearly a third of the responding agents cast their votes for Italy – well over double the score of the first runner-up destination. Why Italy? Because, the respondents said, the food (there) “is superb everywhere...fresh ingredients and great wine make for a wonderful dining experience.”

Paris scored the No. 2 position in the survey with 12 percent of the votes. Contributing factors to the city’s celebrated cuisine included “the number of excellent chefs and local sourcing...it’s hard to get a bad meal in Paris.”

Racking up just half of Paris’ votes but still ranking No. 3 in the survey was New Orleans, which was recognized for “wonderful and varied meals” created by the melding of Cajun, Creole and French cooking. Also, “lots of restaurants (there) opened late to make it convenient for travelers.”

ASTA’s No. 4 slot went to the whole island of Jamaica with 4 percent of the votes. The reason: “Great Caribbean and jerk flavors combined with fresh local ingredients.”

The No. 5 ranking, also with 4 percent of the votes, went to New York City based on its “sheer number of great chefs, restaurants and cuisines.” Like New Orleans, “many venues opened late” was also a boon to New York’s rating.

ASTA is the world’s largest association of travel professionals. Its free newsletter Travelsense offers “the ultimate travel guide for travel tips and advice.”