Travel & Food
Next week I will be heading "across the pond" with my parents for nearly two weeks of relaxation and sight-seeing. As my excitement builds, I have been thinking about past trips and the food adventures (good & bad) that I've had.
I'm never more acutely aware of how distinct the food culture of each country, and city for that matter, is until I find myself somewhere new and notice that while I'm not doing anything rude or gross, my behavior or order doesn't quite match what's going on around me. When I studied abroad in Stockholm, we had a session during orientation during which the program directors spoke to us about some of the key cultural differences we would encounter, one of which was the way that Swedes eat. During a meal, Swedes, we were told, hold their fork in their left hand with the rounded (or back as I think of it) side facing up and their knife in their right hand. Rather than moving their utensils between hands, alternating between cutting and eating like we typically do in America, the Swedes never put their utensils down, instead cutting and then pushing the food with the knives onto the back of the fork and eating from there. Shortly after this lesson, my friends and I tried to eat this way, wanting to live as much in harmony with the culture we were visiting as we could. Cut (pun possibly intended) to us dropping food and taking FOREVER to get through a few bites; it was pathetic.
Other foreign experiences have been more shaped by specific foods. Most distinctive of which for me was my family's trip to Morocco several years ago. At first, I was loving tagine. The fact that each time the top of the clay pot was lifted different spices, colors, and flavors awaited my palate, despite all being chicken tagine, was fascinating and exciting. A week and ten chicken tagines later, I was less enthused. We more or less begged our tour guide to take us to a restaurant that offered literally anything other than tagine and ended up at a generic buffet in a hotel with plain pasta and rolls. I'm don't know that I've ever unwrapped a pad of butter with such gusto.
I don't know what foods await me in Europe as we're heading to places I have never been but I've heard to expect lots of fresh seafood and I'm 100% on board with that. I look forward to making new memories, perhaps discovering a new favorite dish, and learning more about the places I will be in through their food.
Do you associate places with specific foods/restaurants? Any restaurants or dishes you'll never forget?