What’s the one thing you most look forward to whenever you’re visiting a new region or country? Of course, you want to be enthralled by the picturesque natural landscape of the area. You want to soak in the scenery and click Instagram-worthy photographs of various tourist destinations.
But if you’re like most people, your trip to any new destination is incomplete without treating your taste buds to the local cuisine.
In a pre-pandemic world, you’d pack your bags, hop onto a flight, and head to a secluded island every time your fast-paced lifestyle took a toll on your mental peace. But today, things are different. Getaways to faraway countries have been replaced by staycations at local resorts.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean you can’t catch a glimpse of other countries and cultures. You just have to embark on a culinary journey through different cuisines and let your taste buds do the traveling.
The Magical Powers of Food
Here’s the thing – food isn’t all about satiating your hunger and midnight cravings. Well-cooked food offers a multi-sensory experience that has the potential to transport you to new destinations.
It’s what makes you feel the gentle breeze of a Caribbean island from the comfort of your couch. It’s also what gives you a glimpse of local cultures, lifestyles, and traditions from around the world. It’s the reason the cuisine of your favorite travel destination instantly takes you back to your vacation memories.
So, if you’re tired of social distancing and quarantine orders, it’s time you dive into a culinary journey with your tastebuds.
Traveling with Your Tastebuds: The Right Way
First things first – taking your taste buds on a trip around the world isn’t just about ordering Chinese or Thai takeout for dinner. It requires a deep understanding of the culinary traditions of different regions. Also, you must have the curiosity and earnestness to experiment with different ingredients and recipes.
Here are a few ways to treat your tastebuds to an unforgettable travel experience:
The thing about trying foreign cuisines is that most people only stick to a few popular dishes. For instance, when you think about Japanese food, sushi, sake, matcha, and mochi are all that’ll come to your mind.
What we often ignore is the endless universe of Japanese street food filled with drool-worthy dishes, such as okonomiyaki, tamagoyaki, gyoza, wagyu sandwiches, and more. If you want to take a deep dive into Japanese cuisine, you need to focus on regional delicacies, instead of settling for the most widely known dishes.
That rule applies to any cuisine across the world. Italian cuisine is more than hand-rolled pasta and woodfired pizza. Indian food is more diverse than the spicy curry you get at most Indian restaurants. And Middle Eastern cuisine isn’t all about hummus and pita bread.
Do your research to delve deeper into the local and regional dishes in every country. Explore popular food blogs, watch YouTube videos, and read cookbooks to learn more about the regional cuisines.
Visit an International Grocer
The reason dumplings taste the way they do across South East Asia is because they’re made using fresh local ingredients and spices. The friendly neighborhood Chinese takeout joint can never replicate that taste with substitute ingredients.
The good news is that most countries now have a treasure trove of international grocery markets and stores that bring you authentic produce, spices, seasoning, condiments, and other ingredients from around the world. Irrespective of where you’re staying, you’ll at least find an Asian or Indian market in your city.
Think of these markets as windows into other cultures. Talk to the shop owners and vendors to learn more about a country’s indigenous fruits and vegetables. If you aren’t in the mood to cook up a storm, even a pack of wafers from a foreign country will surprise your tastebuds. Similarly, a whiff of aromatic spices will take you to a faraway land.
To Cook or Not to Cook
Trying your hands at cooking international delicacies is a great way of becoming familiar with the local traditions of a region. Most recipes have a rich history associated with them, and cooking them at home is the best way to create a wholesome experience.
Having said that, if you aren’t in the mood to flaunt your culinary skills, it’s okay to order food from a cloud kitchen or take away joint. Try to find a place that uses authentic ingredients, and focus on a specific regional cuisine.
Enjoy the Culinary Adventure
The key to traveling with your tastebuds is to stay curious and be open to experimentation. Don’t hesitate to try new recipes or ingredients even if you aren’t sure about the taste. At the same time, revisit familiar dishes from foreign lands to take a trip down the busy streets and bustling markets of your favorite tourist destination.