One of my favourite things about travelling is the food. Also, cultural immersion, but in my opinion, food epitomises culture. Traditional foods are representative not only of what ingredients are indigenous and local, but of the history, good and bad, that the society has endured. By this, I’m thinking wars, famines, globalisation, cultural regeneration and renaissance, and immigration. All of these elements are supremely influential, whether intentionally or subtly, in shaping the palate of a nation or region.
Moules frites et vin blanc en France
Thus, I firmly believe that local cuisines (and this means wines, beers, and liquors too!) are the best cultural representatives available, short of living in the country for a few years. Not only are the flavours and ingredients integral, but the customs and rituals associated with consuming food and drink, from preparation, service, and actual consumption are fantastic illustrations of culture. They indicate respect, family dynamics, and traditions.
Trying a local hot dog bun snack thing at the bus station in Sandakan, Malaysia
So, with all of that being said, the best thing you can do when you travel is eat. Eat, eat, eat. Try to avoid the Western chains (unless you’re seeking free wifi….guilty). Go and experience the local cuisine. Even if it’s hard to find, and even if you end up somewhere touristy, at least you’ve made an effort.
Our ‘favorit’ local Croatian beer in Dubrovnik harbour
So the way I see it, go, travel, and eat until your pants don’t fit. You won’t regret it.