Trying new foods in other countries is not nearly as scary as it seems, and these tips will help any traveler explore the wide world of flavor.
Food is an integral part of any travel, and for many, it’s one of the most exciting aspects of visiting another country. Around the world, many locations have access to flavors that one could only dream of, and travel gives everyone a chance to divulge their taste buds to a whole new cuisine.
With that being said, it can also be an experience that’s fraught with a bit of anxiety. Whether it’s over the menu and the language barrier or the uncertainty of eating something unknown, dining overseas does make some people nervous. And if that happens, it’s okay – because there are some ways to combat the fear of trying something entirely new.
Invest In Research And Know Exactly What You’re Getting Into
One of the best ways to combat the fear of the unknown, food or otherwise, is to research it. The more one learns about a certain thing, the less they’ll fear it, and the same is true of cuisine. There’s so much to learn about the food in other countries and, if nothing else, it’ll give travelers a solid idea of what, exactly, they’re getting into. Let’s say, for example, the destination is Mexico. Therefore, the cuisine would entail authentic Mexican dishes – not the Tex-Mex/Southwestern fusion that’s seen throughout the U.S.
Research could mean anything, including, but not limited to, these things:
- Scouring YouTube for recipes to see how things are authentically made.
- Watching cooking shows to learn about the process that goes into Mexican cooking.
- Finding an authentic Mexican restaurant nearby and trying some dishes that are out of one’s comfort zone.
- Looking for certain ingredients in the store and trying them at home to see what one likes and dislikes.
- Making a note of the season in which the vacation is to be, and finding out what dishes are available seasonally.
- Taking on the challenge of cooking a few authentic Mexican meals in one’s own kitchen to get familiar with them.
- Doing research on the restaurants in the vicinity of where one is staying.
Learn The Etiquette In A Country Before Traveling There
The last thing anyone wants to do is commit an international faux pas while visiting another country, especially one that involves a meal. Around the world, every country seems to have its own dining etiquette and, obviously, this can be a bit confusing for newcomers. While it’s a simple fix, it does take some research to determine what these common practices are. It might be something as simple as using one’s manners, or as complex as not laying utensils down a certain way or making certain sounds while eating.
In Japan, for example, the etiquette is a bit stricter than in most countries. When dining formally, there are certain ways that chopsticks should never be laid down across the bowl, and slurping is actually a good thing. Additionally, some restaurants might require that one removes their shoes prior to walking in and sitting down at a table, and these are all things that a traveler would now know without proper research. In some countries, it’s completely acceptable to eat with one’s hands (something a traveler must decide if they’re comfortable with prior to dining out), while in others, it’s considered unclean. Knowing these things beforehand can make the process of dining out much easier because a traveler will know exactly what to expect.
Consider Printing Food Allergy Cards And Learning Basic Phrases
The language barrier is often one thing that keeps travelers from leaving fast-food restaurants that they’re familiar with because there’s no way of inquiring about the food. There might be a basic understanding of English in some countries but this is never something that should be taken for granted or assumed. For those who have food allergies, such as gluten intolerance or an allergy to nuts, printing off food allergy cards is the best possible solution. These can be printed professionally and can even be printed in the language of the country one is visiting, so that there are no mishaps while abroad.
- Pro Tip: Be sure to print off several in case one gets lost or left behind.
Vegetarian And Vegan Options
For those who don’t eat meat, it might be even more of a struggle to find meals that are suited to one’s lifestyle. In this case, internet sources such as Happy Cow are a great way to see what’s around in the area and determine which dishes are veggie-friendly. When in doubt, it can’t hurt to learn some local phrases, including those that convey one does not eat meat.
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