Travel Tip # 1: Navigating Food Abroad
Eating McDonalds in Thailand is acceptable if you’re fighting off a Sangsom rum hangover but if you’re relying on western food as your staple in this country known for its spectacular cuisine, you’re robbing yourself blind. Pure and simple. The same applies for anywhere else in the world. Here are my gold standards for eating abroad:
1. Eat where the locals eat – the food here will be the most authentic and affordable.
2. Eat at busy restaurants – a roaring trade means that the food doesn’t lie around. Popular street food vendors are the best – the food is delicious, fresh, incredibly authentic, and super cheap.
3. Dare yourself to try one new dish a day, even if – especially if – it contains ingredients you’ve never tried before, like bamboo shoots, frog meat, eel, or even insects. Do avoid eating bat and monkey meat, though: ain’t nobody got time for ebola.
4. If you’re not accustomed to fresh chilli or powerful curry and you’re in a country that adores spicy food, don’t be a hero. The locals have built up a tolerance to it. You will suffer.
5. Shopping at an open air food market is a really authentic cultural experience. Just make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables with soap and water before you eat them.
6. Research the quality of the tap water in a country before you risk a case of dysentery. Make sure the information resource you use is current. If a country has dodgy tap water, don’t take ice in your drinks.
7. Ask a local (be it a friend or the person at your hotel desk) to recommend a couple of really delicious local dishes for you to try. Write down their names because you WILL forget.
8. Travel with a “traveller’s tummy” medicine kit. As careful as you may be, you will encounter a spectrum of exotic bacteria that you’re not used to and they could upset your belly. Anti-nausea tablets, anti-spasmodics (for stomach cramps), and sachets of electrolytes are a solid investment. Speak to your doctor.
9. ALWAYS wash your hands before you eat. You’re more likely to get sick from something you’ve picked up on public transport than street food.
10. Research and observe the tipping culture of the country you’re travelling in. If you can afford to eat out, you can afford to tip.
Let me know about your food tips and restaurant hacks are when travelling abroad! Bon appétit!