More than a matter of personal taste, the food we eat much depends on where we live and our socioeconomic standing. Although certain food traditions are deeply rooted in society, food is no longer limited to just being about food, in and of itself.
Regardless of what’s trending, or not, eating abroad should be all about taking you out of your comfort zone — and I'm not necessarily talking about eating bugs or trying Balut . There are many other ways to experience flavors and traditional dishes without binge-eating the exotic.
Now, for many of us, it [food] is about where we want to go—about who we want to be, how we choose to live.
John Lanchester from The New Yorker
If travel is meant to challenge ourselves and the way we envision the world, it seems reasonable to say that food largely contributes to this. Like Margaret Visser, the author of Much Depends on Dinner says "food is never just something to eat, it is something to find, or have or cultivate… It shapes us, and expresses us even more definitely than our furniture or houses or utensils do.” Because it brings people together in the spirit of community, food always worked as society’s glue so it's a bit ironic that it has such a huge presence in social media, which supposedly is making us more lonely.
If social media reflects current societal values, food is undeniably a large part of that collective portrait. Suddenly everyone started calling themselves "foodies" and became obsessed with food trends online. Take the humble kale plant - once barely considered more than a garnish - or the taiyaki cones, or rainbow-colored “unicorn foods” (!!!) as an example of this food craze fueled by social media.
For years now “Instagram has sat at the center of trends in food and beverages” but on your next trip make sure you can see beyond today's foodstagramming era to experience the thrill of different cultures and traditions wherever you go. Don't let the ever-fluctuating tastes and obsessions of the foodie scene discourage the explorer extraordinaire inside of you or you might end up trying what everyone else is trying. There doesn’t seem to be any real discovery or excitement in that, right?
If you want to stay curious about food while traveling without falling into tourist traps or over-posted foodie trends be a wise one and follow our checklist. We’ve got you covered!
You can look things up on the internet but the best way to avoid tourist traps is to ask people that live there. When you go to a restaurant make sure you talk to the server or the bartender and ask them where they usually go for food because that’s where you’d want to go eat next. Therefore, and in view of the high stakes, make sure to be open-minded when following up their recommendations because they might lead you to great discoveries!
Andy Killander and Lilly Öreby from our Content Creators Program aren't much planners. They are always looking for ways to mingle with the locals and it often leads them to great discoveries. Take this beach bar in El Paredon for example where Lily was spotted enjoying the happy hour. Mojitos, anyone?
Beach bar in El Paredon, Guatemala
If you want to learn about the food culture of a place markets have to be the number one priority on your list. There's no better way to get a sense of what people are eating every day. Also, because this isn’t a place where food is being put on a platter to you, you can’t beat the prices or the selection.
Professional food photographer Maria Midões visited the floating markets, one of Bangkok’s biggest attractions. You can sit down for a meal and buy some fresh food or simply stare at the vendors while they paddle along the river leaving a trace of delicious-smelling food behind.
Bangkok Floating Market, Thailand
Expect the best but plan for the worst!
Because you want to focus on experiencing a wide variety of food and drinks you need to make sure that your eyes aren’t bigger than your belly. Also, you shouldn’t be afraid of getting sick because if you do so you’ll certainly miss opportunities to taste incredible new foods. Just note that unfamiliar foods can occasionally be unsettling to your stomach and make you sick. So be prepared and stock your suitcase with whatever remedy you usually take to stop an upset stomach.
Would you rather leave Bangkok after trying these spices or live to tell you didn’t? Our New York based content creator, Diogo Paulo, decided on the former! You’ll never know what these sauces are if you don’t try them. Go ahead, don’t be shy!
Get ready for action
Let's say you're into Sake and you'd like to learn more about it. You can start small by taking a class in your hometown which eventually might lead you to attend a higher level class or reading a book and educate yourself to the point that you need to go see, touch and taste it live. Next thing you know you're on a plane going to Japan!
Maria Midões has always been obsessed with food and photography until finally, she decided to combine the two. So she booked a flight from Lisbon to NY for an internship with a well-known food blogger. Years later Maria is still living in NYC and is a sought after food photographer.
Goodbye compulsive planner, hello world
Type your destination (i.e. city or neighborhood) on Google Maps and start strolling (or scrolling 😉) around until you find that restaurant or food joint you absolutely have to visit. Turn that into your main event and start planning from there, but allow yourself to have a loose agenda so you can still see things you didn't plan. Don’t be strict about a schedule, you want to know where things are in neighborhoods and if you pass by it’s a bonus!
Chances are that the less you plan, the bigger the chances for food Jackpots ;) such as this seafood bar João Monteiro spotted in Sarawak, Malaysia.
Seafood bar, Sarawak, Malaysia