When traveling abroad people tend to play it safe when their precious food is in the picture. Scared of unfamiliar or too spicy, too weak tastes, many travelers turn to the McDonald’s or some other familiar fast food franchise. Global food chains are mostly the same around the world, not only they are available everywhere you go but they are unhealthy too. Nevertheless, to answer your question, YES, fast food chains can and should be avoided when traveling (and not only when traveling, but that is another issue).
The beautiful part of traveling is having an opportunity to get to know the culture of the place you are visiting. There is something quite adventurous by tasting new food and drinks. If you’re a foodie and appreciate a good meal then you know discovering new food is like a discovering a new universe. Embrace every chance to try something new. The whole concept of getting away somewhere is kind of like breaking free from anything familiar and enrolling into an unknown world. Keeping yourself healthy during your journey is crucial, so instead of running to the McDonald’s to stuff yourself, go one corner further and surprise yourself with local food. After all, what is the best way to get to understand the culture but to wake up your two most important senses: taste and smell? That sounded harsh, all senses are equally important, but come on, a good taste and a good smell can shake you up a bit.
Buying local is very important, by doing so you’re helping to improve the power of small businesses that have a hard time breaking through because of the big corporation. One of the best chances to experience the place where you’re in is by visiting random local food restaurants, soon you will find yourself talking to locals and finding more about new places to visit that are not in the guide books.
No one knows better the true beauty of some place than the locals. Furthermore, if you show the respect they might tell you about some secret beaches that other tourists have no idea about, or even better they can take you to their favorite local restaurant.
You must know that it is inevitable to try something you won’t like when traveling but that should not discourage you from your further adventures with food. Most likely you will stumble upon food that you will regret, but that is a kind of regret that is good for the stories. I mean eating something you didn’t like is a good thing, now you know your taste better. Not to mention all the smiles when you come back home and tell everyone about the food regrets. And friends, if you ever happen to be in the Southeast Asia, you must try Durian, known as King Fruit. You will probably regret that taste, but you will have a good story to tell.
One more interesting way to try foreign kitchen is through cooking courses. You can have so much fun in these cooking courses, whether you’re alone or with a group of friends, fun times are guaranteed. If you’re alone, bear in mind that you’ll be surrounded by people who have the same wish (to learn something new) like yours. In countries with rich cuisines, there are a lot of opportunities for tourists to take classes where you can learn new techniques of preparing food. Besides having fun, think of all new knowledge you can acquire regarding food and the best thing is that you can take your knowledge back home with you.
In situations when you are sure that some tastes from certain national cuisine don’t suit you, it doesn’t mean that you should miss the whole cuisine. Just because you had a bad experience with few dishes it doesn’t mean you should stop yourself from trying anything else on the menu. For example, Thai curry has much stronger flavor than curry you buy in your market back at home. Nevertheless, that should not prevent you from diving into the Thai cuisine. If you don’t like strong curry, simply ask your waiter to recommend you some other spices.
At last, if you’re scared of trying something new when your food is in the picture, try to do some research before your trip so you could know in advance what is waiting for you. You will get an idea which dishes you would like to try, and which one you would like to avoid. You’ll be happy you did that because there will be no surprises whatsoever.
You’ll realize that after trying new tastes all over the world you’ll find yourself embracing new cuisines with your heart, and there will be no holding back.
There is no reason to search for popular food and drink brands while abroad. Don’t seek anything that you would normally find in your hometown. You experiment when you decide to travel to the new destination, so why not experiment with the new tastes? You’ll be surprised how rewarding it is to find something new. Don’t be scared of something exotic, don’t play the safe cards and eat something that will make your body think about “home”.
And it is not just about fast food chains, but about trying and experiencing things that are authentic for the country you visit. I remember my friend from Germany feeling awkward in Chiang Mai, famous for Thai cuisine. He stumbled upon a funny Thai guy dressed in traditional German costume who invited guests to the restaurant that offered German and Austrian cuisine. He said to me: “I didn’t come all the way to the Thailand to eat schnitzels, which are probably even worse than the ones I ate in Germany”. I must admit that I couldn’t agree more with him.
Don’t go so far away and miss the chance to try everything even if it’s just for one time. Travel to experience new things, meals, and adventures. Who knows, maybe you will find new passion regarding cooking when tasting new food and once you experience the way the meals are prepared, maybe you can be the new Jamie Oliver or Chrissy Teigen.