The travel industry has been on an upswing for the past decade. It seems nothing can slow it down. Who would have thought the coronavirus pandemic will take everything away from us? But instead of wallowing in the misery of it all, we can all agree to focus on the future. What are the things that you want to savor? What are the places you want to visit? List it down and who knows? Tomorrow might finally bring the good news that you can travel the world without worrying about the virus.
What do you love about traveling? Many people are so focused on seeing tourist sites that they forget about one important aspect of tourism—food tourism! There’s something special about finally tasting Singapore’s famous Hainanese chicken and Indonesia’s Nasi Goreng. Traveling to Bali seems such a waste of time without trying its famous BBQ pork ribs by Naughty Nuri, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that you will not notice if you are not looking for it.
The best part about traveling is food. Don’t believe it? Try to recall a place you have visited. What did you experience there and what did you see? Part of those memories will always involve a non-descript restaurant where you tasted the best sushi or that famous ramen house you walked an hour to reach. Food is ingrained in the human language, and traveling magnifies that fact even more.
This is the reason why restaurant review sites have become more popular in recent years. Travelers and tourists flock to these review sites and follow the social media accounts of the food critics. They want to know what food they need to try when they arrive in the country.
Trying New Dishes
The first reason why food is important when traveling is that you will get to try new cuisines. Yes, you can make these dishes right in your kitchen. A visit to an Asian grocery store will give you a taste of the many Indian curries, but they are not the same as being served in a small food stall in New Delhi. Traveling somewhere new opens your eyes to how different people are when it comes to food. It will also give you a taste of the local culture. Do you know, for example, that you can find as many Portuguese dishes in Macau as you will Macanese?
Seeing Old Dishes in a New Light
Everyone loves sushi, but not everyone has the rare chance of sampling sushi made right in front of them by someone who has trained for 20 years to do just that. That’s what you get by traveling. You will get to sample these familiar dishes made in an unfamiliar way and method. You will taste real Sichuan dishes (and no, they’re unlike what’s served in most Western restaurants). The reason for this is the different ingredients available in the country. Alternatives and substitutes will not work nearly as well as the original ingredients.
Cheese in Switzerland and Italy are different from the cheese you can get in your local grocery store. Yes, even the imported ones taste different. Transporting the cheeses from Europe to Alaska, for example, may change the texture of the products.
Understand the Country’s Culture
There is nothing like sampling authentic Italian pizza to understand that its culture and history are vastly different from Chicago’s deep-dish pizza and New York’s thick and massive ones. If you have ever been to South Korea, you know that they take their food very seriously. Food in South Korea is ingrained in their culture. They enjoy food so much that they usually grab dinner with friends, often drinking a bottle of soju to wash away the stress of a workday.
In Japan, for example, their staple food is rice. It’s rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Japanese power through such a hectic day with food. And after that long day at work, you’ll find them hunkered over a bowl of ramen or omurice for dinner. You will have a deeper understanding of a country’s culture when you sample their food in places that the locals patronize.
All the experiences you gained by traveling—whether in seeing new places and sampling new food—will improve your perspective of the world. More than anything, you will look back at these experiences and marvel at how similar people are when it comes to food. No matter what their nationalities are, food will always bring people together in ways that no other can.