For many travelers, food is a priority: researching the best restaurants, trying new ingredients, comparing the best local dishes. Food can be a crucial part of any trip — and its importance goes far beyond how something tastes.
Here are some tips for eating as you travel abroad:
- Food is Culture and History
“When you travel, you set yourself up to explore new places, cultures and history. Food is an essential part of the life of people who live in each destination, of the development of each culture, and of the making of history,” says Helena Bushroe, travel specialist at DSA Vacations, which specializes in tailor-made vacation packages to South Africa, Asia, Latin America and beyond. “Trying local foods is basic to the immersion into each new destination.”
- When in Rome, Literally
“When in Rome, don’t eat like anyone other than Romans,” Bushroe says. “Forget about diets — Italian food is an all-time favorite and the excess calories are worth it. If you go to a tropical Island, enjoy all the different tastes of fruits you will never find as fresh anywhere else. If you go to Brazil, you absolutely have to try a caipirinha.”
Bushroe always recommends that her clients try dishes they won’t find elsewhere. In Africa, for example, that means trying Cape Malay food, which is a special, unique South African cuisine. “You start enjoying the experience even before you eat it. The smells of the spices are incredible.”
In Latin America, Bushroe highly recommends Brazilian food (her all-time favorite cuisine!) like feijoada, which “consists of a set of different courses: rice, black beans and smoked meats stew, sautéed kale and garlic to be finished off by slices of fresh oranges.”
Also, don’t miss grilled meats in Argentina, creative updates on classic ceviche in Peru, and incredible desserts like pudimde leiteand alfajoresall across South America.
- Get Adventurous
A food that may seem unusual to you could be an incredible delicacy you end up loving, so be daring and try something new. It’s a great way to learn about another culture — and it will make for a great story for your friends back home.
“If you are in Zimbabwe, you can’t miss samples of impala, crocodile, wart hog and, yes, mopane worms, a delicacy highly misunderstood,” Bushroe says.
And in Latin America, some other unique dishes to try include Brazilian buchada(goat stomach), Mexican chapulines(grasshoppers tacos), Nicaraguan cheese worms, Peruvian anticuchosde corazon(cow’s heart) and Colombian hormigas culonas(ants with big butts).
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- Savor the Moment
It’s all about seeking traditional, local food experiences, being open-minded and eager to learn, and taking advantage of the unique culinary opportunities presented to you.
“All of our packages include opportunities to try local foods,” Bushroe says. “We also offer cooking tours and classes when the client is interested in learning more about the making besides the tasting. Since we are able to customize any of our packages, the clients have a chance to enrich their culinary experience on many levels.”