Salutations fellow food lovers! As the holiday season rolls in I know a good number of you will be doing a bit of traveling this time of year. Some of you may be going to a place for the first time like if you're visiting a significant other's family for the first time or if you're visiting relatives or friends who moved to a new area or country. Having been overseas several times, I can say that eating McDonald's was an all too common suggestion amongst my friends when we were out and about, but as a foodie that is down right sacrilege. So straight from the foodies mouth, here are a few guidelines that will lead you to some unique eats wherever your travels take you.
Leave your hotel.
While there are many high end hotels with great restaurants around the world, they typically cater to what i like to call international staples. Spaghetti, burgers, sandwiches etc. are common fair the world over and although many decent hotels have exceptional chefs, this list is about finding UNIQUE eats. You also want to avoid eating near tourist attractions for the same reason. Not to mention being a tourist gets you labeled by the locals, especially us Americans. My first trip to Japan I went out with some local girls I had met and they took me to Outback Steakhouse. The stigma with Americans is that we aren’t adventurous with food and are often portrayed as ignorant in the ways of the gourmet. Sticking to tourist crowds will have you seeing a lot of familiar food signs.
Siri has no taste buds…but she does have a GPS.
Technology is an incredible part of our every day life in the 21st century. Last I checked, however, your iPhone doesn’t have a taste test feature. When you Google “best restaurant near me” all you’re going to see are the restaurants that have the highest reviews. While that does help you steer clear of the restaurants from “Kitchen Nightmares” in your area, it doesn’t work so well to help you sort through which of the higher end restaurant will offer the best experience. Yelp isn’t any better these days. Just think about how many myopic opinions there are on Youtube and Facebook and apply that to eateries. The site was intended to help people find a good place to eat, but some people go on just to poorly rate restaurants that either fired them or didn’t hire them, just to be spiteful. Then their are also those people who just like to be a*holes for fun. Be your own judge, especially when it comes to food that you have never tried before. On the other hand, using technology to find eateries that pique your interest is a breeze. Google Maps, Trip Advisor, Grub Hub are solid resources to see what kinds of restaurants are in you area.
Find The Local Experts.
Who do you think eats out more than anyone else in a particular area? People who work the streets. Bootleggers, street vendors, cab drivers and the local police are the perfect dining consultants no matter where you go. They know all the best diners, dives, bars and hole in the wall spots in town as well as the more unique cuisines that their city has to offer. Usually the more bizarre food spots include colorful stories accompanied by the phrase, “it was actually pretty good”. I’ve experienced some off the wall dishes at restaurants that don’t have a single review online, and I loved every minute of it. I’ve had seared black tip shark, bison sausage, barbecued eel, green tea cake, rice moonshine, shrimp chips, fried mountain gecko and even roasted locust larvae and all of it was actually really good.
Now not all food ventures will yield the same experience but going in with an open mind is the most important thing. I’ve had some of the best and worst food in my life during my visit to Vietnam. One of my favorite foods of all time is pizza. I make gourmet pizza at home and am currently drafting plans for a brick pizza oven for my backyard. Needless to say, the last thing I thought I’d see in Vietnam was a pizza parlor. While it boasted quite a few familiar ingredients, there were also some interesting twists to be explored and I happily ate my fill. During the same trip, however, I also experienced the horror of durian. Durian, more commonly known as stinky fruit, was a food I had heard about all too often even before I started traveling. Nothing could have prepared me for just how true the rumors surrounding this delicacy actually were. Having said that, I don’t honestly regret trying it though. Even though I’ll NEVER eat it again, I at least got to say I tried it and have a story as a result.
Got a unique food experience? Let me know in the commons, and be sure to subscribe for more tasty travel tips and elegant eats.