Food culture around the world varies from one location to another. What determines the food in a particular region is determined by a few factors such as climate, proximity to the ocean, resources available and agriculture. When visiting different regions of the world, the one thing that makes a location stand out is, more often than not, its food.
When I travel, one of my favorite parts of the trip is experiencing different foods from that place. It’s always exciting for me to try whatever the locals love and helps me to get a better understanding of the culture. Discovering the “hidden gems” or “secret spots” to find an authentic meal of the locale is always an adventure and you usually find great deals than if you would, just sticking to the eateries that cater to tourists.
There are times where the foods are so extremely weird or different that its hard tho believe that these people really eat things such as grasshoppers, frog legs or rotten shark meat. But they do!! I try my best to be non-judgemental about their food choices and try everything I can, well at least a “no thank you helping” anyway, to not offend, plus I try to think of it as a learning experience. And although there are foods I will never be able to say I truly enjoy, (or would ever want again) I was able to immerse myself into a new culture by trying it’s regional cuisine.
The worst type of travelers to me is a picky food eater. The worst! Thank goodness I really haven’t traveled with anyone that isn’t game for trying new things, (like me) but when I hear stories of friends who only sought out American food, like KFC or McDonald’s I shutter at the thought of how terrible that would be.
How in the hell do you feel like you are going to experience a place you visited without trying their foods?
I don’t get it? Not to mention, American fast foods is awful, (to me anyway) and yes, you can get it, literally everywhere in the world. When I see the big yellow arches or the Colonel’s face on a sign, in the most random places in the world, I almost feel embarrassed of what we eat as Americans. Other countries must think we are crazy for what we eat!
Food culture around the world to me is how we connect with each other. We may not be able to speak to each other because of a language barrier, but if you are given food and smile and nod your head in approval of the taste, there is no loss in that translation there. It brings people who have nothing else in common, together.
When I fondly reminisce of a place I visited, one of the first things that comes to the forefront on my mind is a dish that I enjoyed there. I jut recently became aware of how much food has really impacted my travel experience. I’ve realized how much it has enhanced my enjoyment of virtually every destination I’ve been, whether it be another country or another region of my own country. Each place has given me a new taste to savor.
It’s funny that this has never dawned on me before because I love all food, especially ethnic food and am always super eager to find something to try the second I arrive in a new land. This has got me thinking of what I wanted to do next on the blog.
Let me digress a bit. When I return from a trip I usually always get the, back to reality blues, and want to find some way to keep the trip alive. So of course, I write about it, share my travel stories, share my video and pictures of my trip, but I also do something that maybe some of you don’t or didn’t think of.
I try to imitate a recipe of a food I ate while I visited.
I seriously do this every time I come home from a trip and it is usually within the first week, back home. I know, I’m pathetic. Maybe I am pathetic, but it is a way for me to remember the trip and most importantly, I get to taste that amazing dish once again without having to revisit in order to experience it.
How I do this is, I just search the internet for a recipe of that delicious ethnic dish I’m craving. I have no trouble finding a recipe or two, or 10 with all the ingredients I need. Some recipes are easier than others and some require ingredients that I’ve never heard of or are very hard to find at a basic grocery store, but mostly, it can be made with a quick run to my local market and can be made for dinner that night. I must admit, although I am a pretty decent cook, it never comes out the same as if you ate in first hand, but its a good second.
Even before I started my “world travels” I would do this (in a sense) when my kids were little. I didn’t make foods that were from a foreign land that I visited myself, but it was from a foreign land that I intended on visiting some day. It also made it a really fun a way to teach my kids about other cultures.
This is how it went. I would pick a country on the globe, (sometimes with the kids help, sometime not) and then I would google a little information on it and print it out. Then I would find a popular dish that represented that country. This part was sometimes tough because it was hard to have a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old to eat weird or spicy things, so sometimes I would improvise a little, but you get the idea.
Dinner time came and we all sat down to eat. I would show them on the globe where this food came from. I’d give them a little background history, which was super basic since they were so young, and then we would eat.
The kids thought it was fun, as did I, since I’m obsessed with travel (obviously), but it also made them learn about other places other than just what was outside our back door. It also made them learn to try new things and not to be closed-minded that how we live, or what we eat, for that matter, is NOT the only way or the right way. They sometimes didn’t like the food and I’d have to make them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead, but overall they always had their, “no thank you helping” and enjoyed our little cultural lesson a lot.
Today my kids are 17 and 20 and thankfully, are both not picky eaters. My son thinks he is the next Andrew Zimmerman, by always wanting to try bizarre foods, and my daughter is now a world traveler, herself, loving the diverse foods she tries, at every place she’s been. I really think that this cultural food experiment we did when they were at impressionable ages, helped them see that, a lot of enjoyment in life is through food. It also let them taste flavors and regional recipes that have been passed down from one generation to another from all over the world and that steak and potatoes may be good, but there is so much more to try that will make your taste buds sing with joy.
Which brings me to my next idea for the blog: Recipes from around the world! Yay!
I will post one recipe a month that has inspired me through my travels. Some recipes may be from places I’ve already gone to and want to share a dish that I loved, while others may be dishes I aspire to try on my upcoming adventures, but all of them will be made for the sole purpose of sharing with you guys, so that you may be able to make it too, even if you can’t visit these places yourself.
Clearly you can just hop on a search engine and look up a recipe yourself, but this is a place that you can go to for inspiration of foods you may not have tried before or even heard of. (so how could you search for it? right?) I will also share where I got the recipe and a lot of times I blend recipes to my liking, so I’ll tell you exactly what I did to create my masterpiece. I will give you a step by step guide, with pictures, and maybe even a video if I’m not feeling shy?
The first edition to my Global Recipes page will be November 1st, so check back soon for the first installment. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Cheers!
What is your favorite dish from a country that you visited? I’d love to hear about it and maybe even try to make it?