How to enjoy foreign cuisine
I'm a foodie. I enjoy eating a little more than I should. Trust me. Evidence #1: I tend to dance and hum when I'm enjoying a meal. Evidence #2: Food is involved in a lot of my best memories. Evidence #3: I take pics of my meals and post them on Facebook and the Gram.
I enjoy cooking too. But I hate cooking out of obligation. I'm a spur of the moment kind of cook.
For the past 3 years, I've travelled quite a bit and experienced various cuisines. Yes, there are types of food I prefer. Yes, I get a bit disappointed when breakfast doesn't include bread. (I love bread so much that my Grandpa had recommended that I marry a bread maker. I didn't. But Hubby knows not to let our home run out of bread.) But that never stops me from enjoying local dishes and I never starve.
If you have allergies or intolerances, please feel free to ignore some (if not all) of my tips.
Oh! I'll pepper this post with pics of Colombian dishes. 'Cause we're in Bogota, peeps!
Here are a few tips.
Do as my Mom says
In my mother's house there were three rules when it came to food: 1) Thou shall try a dish at least once before deciding whether or not you don't like it; 2) Thou shall eat what I work hard to put in your plate; and 3) Thou shall not waste food as a meal is a privilege in a country where people are starving.
True story. When it came to food, my mama didn't play. There was none of that bargaining I see going on nowadays.
Therefore, I'll taste anything before I make my mind up. I may pause, make faces, take it slow. But I'll eat it. I haven't tasted bugs yet. The operative word being "yet". But I ate alligator meat. Delish!
My advice to you is to try new dishes. You can even do that at home!
My sense of adventure excludes heights. Activities like ziplining, parasailing and the likes are out. For now. I have a serious fear of heights, but I'm working on it.
When it comes to food, I know no fear. From gourmet meals to the streetest of street food, my palate doesn't discriminate.
One of the main reasons I travel is to discover new cultures and to learn about them. And to me food is a sure way to do just that.
Try and make it a point to taste many traditional dishes. You'll be sure to find one that you like.
Don't look for what you know
You may not want to stay out of your comfort zone. And I get it. In that case, I'd suggest that you mix it up.
Head to that McDonald's, but try a local eatery as well. TripAdvisor is a gold mine. You'll have access to comments, menus and photos.
I personally enjoy trying new foods. I've been eating Haitian Cuisine since I was a yee little thing. It's my favourite cuisine in the world. But it feels good to try new things.
I'm big on breakfast and brunch. I make it a point to eat a typical breakfast (although without bread sometimes) at least once.
Do your research
Read about the places you're about to visit. Get an idea of what they eat.
If you follow a vegan or a vegetarian diet, you may need to do some extra research. (Do you know of any resources that may be helpful?)
I mean your server, you taxi driver, your host, the hotel concierge. Ask them about the meals they prefer and the restaurants they go to.
You may have to be clear that you want to eat what locals eat.
People are usually happy to help. They take pride in their culture.
Most of all, be open-minded
People live, eat and pray differently. Accept and embrace these differences.
Some dishes will be good, others not so much. Eat some more and discover.
Eat rice and fish for breakfast if that's what locals are eating. It won't kill you. Eat corn in all its forms. Be impressed that they have found so many uses for it. Eat seafood three times a day. And keep in mind that you're on an island.
Be grateful for the privilege of experiencing a new culture. And be a good guest.