So you’ve gotten the passport sorted, bought the ticket, packed your bags and now you’re off to far-flung, mysterious foreign lands filled with new and curious things to see, do and try.
Amongst all the hustle and bustle of new, unfamiliar cities and countries comes a plethora of different things you will encounter, one of which is the food!
Food, glorious food! This is perhaps one of the most commonly tried things that travellers get involved in, practically from minute one in your new surroundings. Depending where you go and what culture you will find yourself in, the food is a mainstay of the area, a staple, and ultimately one of the most important aspects of getting involved in your travels.
So – how do you enjoy new foods? Let’s face it, a lot of people are pretty picky eaters and may be really hesitant to dive into meals of maggots and snakes (yes, this is an option in some places). Okay, even if you aren’t a picky eater, you wouldn’t necessarily dive into maggots right off the plane. Start slow is the key, and if you have the opportunity in your country before leaving, try introducing yourself to the foreign food there if it’s available. Foreign foods such as Arabian, Ethiopian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese etc have begun to be more well-established outside of their countries of origin, giving you, the traveller, the opportunity to try it when you still have McDonald’s as a fallback if you can’t get into it.
One of the most important things to remember when travelling and trying new foods is that it’s going to, of course, be different to what you’re used to and that’s okay. In fact, it’s awesome. Always remember too that some dishes are going to be seasoned in ways that are suitable to locals and not to foreigners. If something is going to be a spicy dish, ask for no spice – it’s safer than saying “a little bit”, which some people take as a welcome to joke around and put “local level” spice in it. This will allow you to get the flavours of the dish without tears streaming out of your eyes and your nose running because you’ve been bombarded with Ghost Chili-level spice.
Street foods are common throughout the world and are one of the best ways to introduce yourself to the dishes of your chosen country without having to pay restaurant fees. Street food is notoriously cheap, so it’s a great way to try new things without breaking the bank. Another tip when travelling, especially with allergies is to make sure you’re ordering dishes that fit with any dietary requirements – remember, a lot of countries use nuts in their cooking, so be prepared! Additionally, always ask what the “national dish” is – for example, in Canada the national dish is considered to be Poutine (french fries, gravy and cheese), the same as it’s fish and chips in Britain. This way you will get to try the real local dish that everyone in the country enjoys!
Overall, using common sense, but a bit of adventurous spirit will see you falling in love with local dishes in no time flat and looking to make it yourself once you return home. Enjoy!