I will admit that I am a little behind on my reading these days, and in this crazy world, I’m sure I’m not alone. I recently caught up on Travel & Leisure’s April edition, appropriately named “The Food Issue.” Food plus travel equals my downfall. Of course, food is a vital part of any travel excursion. Not only does is provide a look into the culture of the place, but it tells a story of the people who live there and how their daily routines are structured. The French, for example, traditionally observe a two-hour lunch break. In Greece, dinner time is customarily late, around 9pm or later.
Food can also define a place. For instance, what would Istanbul be without spice markets and baklava? What about France without crepes and croissants? And Greece without sardines and fish markets? For many Americans, learning about culture is limited to the Western world, so cuisine acts as another outlets into these other worlds. What would we associate with India without the presence of Indian food in the United States? Or Japan without sushi?
Anywhere we go, from Chicago to Texas, Spain to Thailand and everywhere in between, experiencing the cuisine of a place is always exhilarating.
Reading Travel & Leisure’s Food Issue got me thinking about some of the best experiences with cuisine I’ve ever had while traveling. There are SO many. Spending four months in Bulgaria, I adapted and eventually fell in love with their food, from the awesome sirene cheese to the traditional shopska salad. There’s nothing like sangria and tapas at a seaside restaurant in Barcelona. Italy’s pasta shops are a wonder. But one of my most memorable experiences took place in Budapest, Hungary on Easter weekend two years ago.
While only there for three nights, Budapest was quick to make an impression. Everything about the city was welcoming, but the food discoveries my friends and I made were not at all expected but oh so welcomed. Let me entertain your mind for one second. Hungarian spaetzle, Mexican enchiladas, Indian curry bowls, Greek hummus and falafel, French pastries. All in one weekend. Around every corner. Living in Bulgaria, these foods are nowhere to be found. Particularly the Mexican meals. Let’s just say, cravings were satisfied.
Where have you had some of your best food experiences?