Food tour: Around the world in forty flavours
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Food tour: Around the world in forty flavours

I think food is a big part of going on holiday, and if I were to go on holiday, I would take the cuisine of the destination into consideration because, for me, going on holiday does include trying different cuisines, but maybe not necessarily dishes native to the country I’m visiting.

For example, one of the reasons that I would like to go to South Korea is for the food there, as it looks so good in Korean dramas, and the few times I’ve eaten it I’ve enjoyed it, but I’ve never actually eaten it in Korea. However, there have been instances on holiday where I’ve eaten something that I really enjoyed that wasn’t actually a native dish at all. For example, in Japan, I really enjoyed some Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is a dish that originates from maritime Southeast Asia.

It should be noted that many places around the world have fusion dishes and dishes adapted from other countries. For example, in Hong Kong, you can get ‘Western style’ breakfast items, but done in the Hong Kong way. One such item is a super tasty version of French toast, which is made with lovely, thick, peanut-buttered white bread that is dipped in egg, deep fried, then served with condensed milk. I’ve also been to a Korean restaurant in Hong Kong with food that I really enjoyed.

We should try different cuisines as much as we can when we’re abroad to make the most of the opportunity to eat authentic food from other cultures

Hong Kong is a food heaven and definitely a place to visit if you’re looking for a food-filled holiday. There is just so much to eat and almost always conveniently within reach – it is not surprising that ‘Hong Kong’ literally means ‘fragrant harbour’ in Chinese.

Despite the desire to try different cuisines, it can be easy to play it safe sometimes, and only eat food that you know you’ll like. It can be especially tempting to go for something safe if you’ve been trying new food all week and haven’t had any luck with finding food you enjoy. Or maybe, after some time abroad, you just miss the cuisine of your home country. Sometimes, it’s not just about what you want to eat, but what you can or can’t eat.

Whilst eating abroad, you must be careful with eating food you’re intolerant to, or accidentally eating something you’re allergic to, as it’s never good to be ill, but even worse when on holiday. Extreme flavours in cooking can also make it difficult to eat adventurously abroad, for example, if the food is always too spicy. In my case, I found the food in Portugal to be too salty compared to what I’m used to. Alternatively, it could be that a commonly used spice happens to be a spice you’re not keen on.

Eating like a local means not always picking the most expensive restaurants, but going somewhere that might look less fancy, but hides secret gems

However, overall, I think we should try different cuisines as much as we can when we’re abroad to make the most of the opportunity to eat authentic food from other cultures. You never know, you might end up discovering a new favourite dish! A country’s cuisine can also be a way of understanding the culture of a place, as it often reveals influences of other cultures, sometimes from a colonial past. However, I think the traditions around the making and eating of the food are also significant. For example, in Hong Kong, certain dishes or desserts are often made and eaten in accordance with festivals, such as eating moon cakes at the mid-autumn festival.

To be able to eat like a local, and really try the authentic food, I believe you need to be willing to put down your pre-conceived ideas of a country’s cuisine, as often our ideas are based on restaurants in our own countries, which have been adapted from the original to suit a different palette, or from takeaways which, again, are not always authentic. You need to be open to other ways of preparing or cooking ingredients, and willing to try meals that are outside of your ‘norm.’

Admittedly, I’m not always good at doing this, but it’s something I’ve got better at over time. I would say that eating like a local means not always picking the most expensive restaurants, but going somewhere that might look less fancy, but hides secret gems.

A country’s cuisine can also be a way of understanding the culture of a place, as it often reveals influences of other cultures, sometimes from a colonial past

Nowadays, with the internet at our fingertips for most of us, it is easy to search on YouTube for more local eateries, but if you can speak the language of your holiday destination, then maybe you can ask the locals themselves? However you do it though, making a food tour of your holiday destination really is a great way to explore a place and make the most of your time there. It might even bring some inspiration to your own cooking!

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