I’ve finally made the leap into hosting guest bloggers and I’m very excited to have Roxana as my very first! If you would like to be featured as a guest poster, please contact me!
Roxana is a travel enthusiast from Sydney and she loves to write about her adventures. She is all about the healthy lifestyle, loves to run with her husband and dogs and has fun cooking exotic meals for her family. Being a typical Aussie, she often hits the waves and loves beaches and sunshine! You can find her articles on HighStyleLife and StyleByAsia.
So without further ado, check out Roxana’s tips for how to have the best food experience abroad.
How to Have the Best Food Experience Abroad
For any travel-junkie the sheer thrill of packing a portion of your life in one bag and flying to a distant destination, breathing an entirely different air and hearing another language is enough to keep your adrenaline rushing. However, once you talk with the locals, walk in their shoes and taste their food can you really understand the nation better. Wherever you are going, there are a few simple tricks which can improve your dining experience abroad:
No matter how considerate or polite you are, there are certain cultural differences among different nations which you may not be aware of. For example, if you are in Italy and eating pasta, it’s an absolute sin to use a knife to cut through the pasta or even to use a spoon to reel the long spaghetti in. The fork is the only appropriate cutlery. In France, you should always keep your hands on the table, not on your lap. Your parents must have taught you not to chew your food loudly but in Asia (notably Japan) slurping your soup is actually considered to be a compliment to the chef! Before you enter any foreign restaurant, make sure you research what are the typical table manners.
Culture resides within the cuisine
Paintings, sculptures, literary classics all represent a rich pool of cultural heritage, but so does food. Signature dishes hold recipes handed down by numerous generations, prepared with lots of love, traditional methods and local groceries. Every restaurant holds its special dish representing the chef’s specialty and signature drinks which are definitely a must-try. Thanks to the inventions of the 21st century, finding amazing places and deals can be a breeze with gadgets such as a wine app which can pinpoint you to the best wines anywhere in the world.
Don’t underestimate the food or overestimate your stomach
So, once you’ve established what are the polite table manners for the country you’re visiting, it’s time to sink into the traditional local aromas and delights. You can scan through the menu in search for familiar tastes and recognizable ingredients or you could give in to the temptation and try something completely new. If you’re the adventurous gourmet, take care not to go overboard: some cultures use specific seasoning and mixtures of ingredients which are very different from what you are used to and you can’t really tell how your stomach will react. Also, some exotic dishes made from rare fish can even be toxic if not prepared properly, which depends on the chef’s expertise. Consult the waiters for their recommendation as they have surely had tourists ask these questions before.
Balance is key
As with everything in life, the key to fully enjoying a meal is balance. Let yourself go, immerse into the flavors and aromas preferred by the locals, taste the signature drinks, but respect your organism and its limitations. If you are intolerant to any type of food make sure you note that to the waiter when you order and be careful when choosing spices and seasoning as it may contain some allergens. If you are not sure what taste would suit your palate, ask if you could order a 5 course sample taste plate (if it is available). Better safe than sorry. Or hungry.
So, don’t worry yourself too much with going on a gastronomic adventure. Keep this advice in mind and you are sure to enjoy the local cuisines and the best food you could possibly imagine.
18 thoughts on “How to Have the Best Food Experience Abroad”
Would love to Guest Blog if you want. Please see some of my US Travel blog posts at http://usimages.blogspot.com
Typically I find the best food experiences abroad are fresh foods from markets, food stands, prepared food sections of grocery stores, and festivals. Avoid packaged items.
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Great article, Roxana. It’s a good thing to consider all of these variables when you’re traveling outside your comfort zone. We sometimes find ourselves having ordered too much food and having to leave some behind, which in many places is considered rude and we’ve had to explain that we just ordered too much to the chef though hand gestures. Id rather not have to do that again ever.
This is a great food post! I agree that you must adhere to each cultures table manners as it can really make a difference at a restaurant or with house guests!
I think too many people look for the familiar and miss out on something potentially amazing. I love the suggestion about trying the signature dish, especially throughout Asia it will likely be quite cheap so if it is not to your taste then at least it was worth a try for a few dollars.
These are seriously good tips you give here. It’s absolutely true that when going abroad you need to consider local manners and cultural habits. When we’re abroad, we always look for places/restaurants that are being frequently visited by the local people. That way you’re sure that fresh and good food is being served on your plate.
Great advices! I don’t eat meat so often I’m very skeptical about new food-experiments, however food-traveling is great! 🙂
Some good tips here! The only thing I would add is don’t begrudge yourself a taste of home every now and again. I find foodie travellers sometimes look down their nose at you if you admit to having gotten a McDonald’s while travelling – but sometimes (esp when hungover) you just want something familiar. #noregrets
Food is an awesome part of traveling. We try to eat what ever is the regional specialty when we visit towns and cities. Some times it amazing sometimes not so but you owe it to yourself to at least try
Great article! I definitely agree – manners should always be first and foremost 🙂
Fabulous tips, especially important re the researching cultural eating norms. Manners and expected practices varies so much from country to country that you never want to be in the situation where you’re inadvertently offending someone. Thanks for sharing!
Good tips. It’s important to pay attention to your body, your organism, at any age. Part of it is the job, part is learning balance and another part is managing impulse. Thanks for the thoughtful post. Be well.
Great tips! I’m not always the most adventurous eater, but I do always love at trying new dishes and local specialties. It’s so fun to see how other parts of the world eat–it is definitely a good look into another culture. Love the tip about researching the culture beforehand–always good to be prepared!
Thanks for the advice! Trying new food is one of the things I look forward to when we travel too!
What a great reminder that we have to be aware of cultural norms at the dining table! The last thing you want to do is offend your hosts or look like an idiot. Being aware will lead to a much better experience.
It’s definitely a good idea to understand etiquette. I remember being told not to stick chopsticks vertically into rice because it has connotations of death in China! Definitely eat where locals eat and go to markets. Great tips
I just look for places with lots of locals or follow my nose. If a place smells good then it is bound to have good food.
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