Travel is one of those things that inherently possess a certain magical quality about it; seeing new places, meeting new people, expanding your horizons and learning more about the magical world we live in, it’s an incredible experience that I’m so glad I’m privileged enough to experience.
Travel is intoxicating, exhilarating, breathtaking, awe-inspiring. It makes you the best version of yourself. It brings out that childish, Disneyland-for-the-first-time side of you every single time you round a corner and run smack into some fantastic natural or man-made marvel.
I pray I never lose my sense of wonder.
And it’s not just the amazing cathedrals, fantastic architecture, or those little towns still caught in the medieval era that make travel amazing: arguably, one of the most jaw-dropping aspects of travel is simply the food.
You can’t just go to Paris and not try escargot, duck, or foie gras. Nor can you go to Belgium and not try the frites, wafels, and chocolate, nor Amsterdam and not try the cheeses, nor Spain and not sample tapas. The only only way to fully appreciate a country is to try the local cuisine.
As one of my friends said, you don’t go to Italy, famous for coffee, and hit up a Starbucks! Similarly, you don’t go to Paris, land of fine cuisine, and eat in a McDonald’s, of all places!
Obviously, it’s not always possible to eat out all the time, but for heaven’s sake, at least find a local cafe or a cheap local diner and go out for one cultural meal!
I’ve found myself put many strange, questionable foods in my mouth over the course of my travels. Some have made me gag, one sent me running to the bathroom to dry-heave over a toilet, and many many others were mind-blowingly exquisite.
Just to name a few of the “exotic” foods I’ve tried:
-Parisian-style duck (OMG YUM)
-Foie Gras (like a weird, expensive kind of meat butter, or maybe I’m just not cultured enough to fully appreciate it haha)
-Jamon Serrano (like Serrano ham, but in chunks and totally raw. Served in Spanish markets and absolutely addicting)
-I don’t know what it’s called, but when I went to my French sister’s (aka former exchange student) house for Sunday lunch, her mom prepared this amazing lamb and chicken stew inside of a massive pumpkin, which she had wrapped in tinfoil and had cooked in the oven for the majority of the day. Like, whoa.
-Hotchpot from Amsterdam (Probs my fav dish from Amsterdam, to be honest!)
Plus a plethora of other crazy foods that I totally forgot to write down. Oops.
The point is, you shouldn’t be afraid of eating something just because you’ve never seen it before, because it smells funny, or because it just looks so dang questionable that you’re uncertain if it’s even edible. Just try it. Just one little bite.
Seriously. I’ve even put aside my hatred of things like tomatoes and smelly cheeses to try some pretty crazy stuff. If I can do it, you definitely can. Don’t go back home having only eaten only McDonald’s, Burger King, or KFC (yes they have KFC here I was surprised too!).
Get a little adventurous, both with travel and with your palate! ^_^