Traveling to Eat: The Essentials
I am excited to be contributing to Food Republic, and kicking things off with a guide to traveling to eat – ie all the things you should keep in mind if you want your culinary travels to be interesting.
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener
Michener is right; if you can’t stomach the local fare, you’re not really traveling. Pulling us away from our local haunts, travel is a way to explore new destinations, and what better way to get to know a place than through its food culture? The added benefit of travel is that it allows you to indulge. You might skip out on that dessert at home, but hey, you’re in Greece… you have to try the baklava! And order that third beer.
If you’re a food lover at home, then traveling like one isn’t a difficult feat, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you make the best of your foray into exotic palates.
1. Go off the beaten path
For those really looking for a culinary experience, you’re not going to get it sticking to the major thoroughfares. Take time to explore. Make sure you seek out just as many local dive joints as you do three-star Michelin places. And no matter how hungry you are, try to avoid eating in big chain restaurants.
2. Choose a specific dish to focus on
If you’re headed to a place that’s known for a specific ingredient or dish, plan your itinerary accordingly. Olive oil tastings and olive grove tours in Italy, coffee farms in Hawaii and fish tacos in Baja. This gives you a base to start with and you can expand from there.
3. Employ the “just say yes” policy
Traveling is about experiencing, and even if the fried dish of bugs looks odd, at the very least you’ll end up with a good story to tell. After all, tales of crazy eating experiences aren’t born from responses of “No, I don’t think so.” Just make sure you have some pills for an upset stomach just in case.
There are five more rules for when you’re traveling to eat… read my full article on Food Republic.