It’s no secret to those that know me that I love to travel. I will go anywhere from Antarctica to Antigua and anywhere in between. I love what travel does for us as a whole by connecting us to one another. It brings humanity into a fine tuned photo of our differences and, mostly, our similarities in this world. For me, it is an essential part of my life.
Travel feeds my mind and nourishes my soul. I have spent hours whittling away time on Pinterest, travel blogs and Instagram planning and plotting my next, newest vacation. I have seen myself a thousand times around the world all from behind my little rectangular, pixelated computer screen. And the more I see, the more I crave.
For me, one of the best parts of travel is submerging myself in the culture. Whether I’m in California or Katmandu, I want to have an authentic experience – not some watered down American tourist version. So even when we do stay close to a resort, I try to get out and really experience what the locals get to see and do.
One my favorite ways to experience the culture of an area is through food. The second you see a bunch of Americans queueing up at the hotel buffet, turn around and walk straight to the concierge (or your to your favorite pal, Google) and find some authentic local joint to grab a drink or have a meal. Whether you are in Texas hunting down chile rellenos or Indonesia looking for the best satay you can uncover, your experience suddenly shifts from being staged to a little more authentic if you venture out a little past your comfort zone.
Don’t be afraid to try something new either. I have yet to get sick from eating food in another country (the water however is a whole different story which I won’t recount for you…You’re welcome). And even if you aren’t brave enough to try cockroaches in Thailand (who could blame a girl?), you can still talk to people about the whys of how they cook.
Food culture – the reason we cook what we cook and eat what we eat – shines a spotlight into the history, socio-economics and environment you are visiting. We eat rice for a reason in South Carolina. It’s part of our heritage. While it’s not originally native to the area, it did come in and take over as a crop in the 1600s, becoming a significant food source and income stream for our state. So, we eat rice – and lots of it. Red rice. Dirty rice. Steamed rice. Rice pudding. The same goes for many native things in the area. Benne (also known as sesame). Quail. Pork. Shrimp. Crab. Corn. The list goes on. It’s part of our dynamic and never ending culture.
So the next time you find yourself traveling somewhere new, submerge yourself in the wonder of it all. Try something you have never tried before. Talk to the locals and experience the real flavors of the travel. Submerge yourself with food. It’s the most delicious part!