If you are a picky eater just like me, and if you’re as obsessed about travels as I am, you know that it truly sucks.
Everytime I look on blogs, pinterest, travel books or google to search about a new destination, to learn more about what to expect, and what to do, there is a section call what to eat.
Trying local dishes is a major part of discovering a culture. And I love it. Especially when it’s about pastries or fruits, but when it comes to meat, I must confess: I hate it.
I’m a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat or anything from the sea, and I don’t really like cakes – cupcakes or muffins are okay, but nothing bigger or too spongy -, I don’t eat olives or cherries, and my eggs must be practically burn.
I went in Germany. Everyone knows it’s recognized for its bread and its sausages. Did I try the last one? Of course not.
I spent two months of my life in the United Kingdom. Fish and chips? Nop.
Ireland. Lamb stew? Definitely not.
Taiwan. Octopus? No.
I am willing to try… Sometimes. But I just don’t like it.
And this saddens me. I feel like I am a terrible traveler for not being able to tell people which food to try or to bring new recipes at home. Like I am missing a huge part of the country I am visiting. I feel like I am not a real traveler because food is such an important part of the identity of the country, which I don’t get.
To top it all, I don’t drink alcohol either. It’s a relief because I’m a budget traveler, but, again, I would love to try the local’s. A new dish + a new drink = a must to enjoy another culture. There are so many wine tasting opportunities that I decline while traveling because I would throw my money out of the window. Local wine and local beer look so much fun to taste. But knowing that I won’t like it is an enormous disappointment.
Oh, and I don’t drink coffee. Unfortunately for me, I could have tried dozens when I went in Italy. Latte, espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, mocha, etc.
There are websites on which you can arrange a meeting with a local family who cooks a local dish for you. I would love to try this. But what if they prepare something that I don’t eat? I would love to try to work for a family in exchange of accomodation and food, but again I can’t turn down a meal especially cooked for me because I’m a picky eater. Can I?
How do I manage to feel less-not-a-real-traveler and to enjoy the local’s menu?
I ask if a recipe is done in a vegetarian way. I went in Greece and asked for a vegetarian moussaka. I also tried gyros without pork. I might looked funny at first but they did it anyway. Vegetarian pizzas in Italy come by dozens. I cannot try every dish without meat or seafood in it, but half of the recipes are available and I am more than content with that.
I try as many national’s desserts as I can. Gelato. Miam. Pasteis de Nata. Bring it. Pretzels. Anytime. Chocolate. Is that a question? It is no secret, I have a sweet-tooth. So desserts are equal to paradise for me.
I try local drinks that are alcohol-free such as IRN-BRU or any other soda, tea, bubble tea, smoothies done with local fruits. And, of course, I am on a personal quest to find the best hot chocolate ever.
I always find something to try, a local dish that I can recommend when I come back home. Maybe I have to look a little further but there is always a way to satisfy my taste buds and to get that sense of adventure through the food.
Did that ever happened to you, to have this feeling of not being a complete traveler because you don’t want to try the local food? How did you managed to get over it?