Perspectives: food travel experiences

One of the best things about travel is discovering the local food.  The food we eat when travelling is often quite different to our typical food at home, which can either make for an adventurous, delicious experience or a something more unappealing.

TheRationalOptimist

1. Which country has been your favourite for gastronomic touring?

You wouldn’t want to be on a diet when travelling through Mexico. There is just so much delicious food, and every region has its own style and variations. I remember the street food of Mexico City being so varied, with little food carts on every street corner dishing out tamales, gorditas, and tacos, all served with fresh salsa verde or a stinging hot sauce. The most memorable dish I had was a richly flavoursome mole in Oaxaca, where I was left completely speechless savouring all the smokey chilli flavours, with just a hint of bitter chocolate.

eating taco in mexico city

2. What has been your least favourite food experience while travelling?

On a family visit to China one year, my extended family took me to one of Guangzhou’s seafood restaurants for dinner. As soon as we entered the restaurant, there were tanks lining the walls and in the middle of the entrance filled with many varieties of fish, eels, sea urchins, and crustaceans. To my horror, right in the middle of the floor, elevated as if it was the pride of the restaurant, was a large tank holding one lone turtle that was clearly too big for it. As a diver and a turtle lover, I was completely put off my meal.

3. What is the strangest food or drink you have tried on your travels?

When I travelled to South Korea, I asked my Korean colleague to take me to a restaurant that served dog. It was served hot pot style and was warming and delicious. Eating dog is not strange in some countries, but certainly unusual in Western society where they are man’s companion. It certainly didn’t taste particularly strange – I thought it tasted a bit like lamb!

PetiteFolle

1. Which country has been your favourite for gastronomic touring?

My recent gastronomic experiences in Thailand have probably been my best to date. Bangkok’s streets are lined with stalls all nature of delicious goodies. From fried rices, pad thais, fish cakes, rich curries, spicy salads and skewered meats to delicious fruits, coconut balls, sweetened egg white on small crunchy pancakes and even green paste on brioche, Bangkok’s got it all. Or rather, my taste buds had it all! First prize was tied between a wonderfully rich duck noodle soup and amazingly tender mango sticky rice. Ah Thailand, you had me at “sawa dee kah”!

3. What has been your least favourite food experience while travelling?

McDonald’s. I was dragged in kicking and screaming by my fellow travellers on my first trip to France. So much wonderful food all around me and there I was eating McDonald’s. Oh, the shame. I firmly resolved to eat solo if ever such a situation arose again the future!

If we’re talking non-Anglo food experiences, the gallo pinto (rice and beans and not-a-lot-of-anything-else) in Nicaragua was a pretty underwhelming.

3. What is the strangest food or drink you have tried on your travels?

I think the strangest meal title belongs to one I shared with the other Little Piggies at 3Frakker in Reykjavik, Iceland. Around the table of adventurous foodies, we feasted on shark, whale, reindeer, puffin, horse and guillemot, some random sea bird I’d never heard of. I would never have ordered it myself, as I find whaling terribly cruel, but I did taste the whale that someone else had ordered. I didn’t really like it… it was pretty nondescript in flavour. I was left wondering why we don’t just leave the poor things alone!

PerfectlyRandom

1. Which country has been your favourite for gastronomic touring?

This is probably going to come as a surprise to most people who know me as an avid foodie, and a champion of Asian travel – and it is really, really hard not to choose somewhere in Asia as a favourite. But I have to admit, it’s probably America. Please don’t judge me. It’s just too hard to look past the smoky BBQ, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, creamy seafood chowder in a sourdough bowl, tex-mex, super fresh snow crab claws…the USA is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, with wonderfully fresh local produce despite it’s awful reputation for obesity and fast food. I’m not gonna lie though. I’d do a Man vs Food tour any time.

Clinton Street Baking, NYC, Blueberry buttermilk pancakes

2. What has been your least favourite food experience while travelling?

Plantains. All over central and south America, every cheap backpacker meal you have with the locals involves plantains. Chalky tasting, generally bland, and somewhat like an unripe banana, these little guys just don’t float my boat whether their fried, steamed, baked, or grilled.

3. What is the strangest food or drink you have tried on your travels?

Snake blood in Vietnam. I don’t even like tasting my own blood, so I have no idea why I agreed to try the blood of a snake, which is supposed to infuse you with manliness. I don’t remember feeling more manly, or more worldly for having tried it – and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else!

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