When you travel to a new place, how much food adds to your experience?
Are you eating to live OR living to eat?
If you are the latter one then I am sure apart from travelling to a exotic location one of the reasons for deciding the location must be to explore the culture and food of the place.
For me one of the major reason I travel is to experience a culture of the place, and food play a major role in understanding the ethnicity of a city. I never miss to discover the road side stalls and the street carts which might be serving the city's delicacy. Always dining in a fine restaurant might not serve you the best of what the city serves so I always look out for the street food because the best local cuisine comes out from these small street side stalls or even rich authentic cafes. I can even relate to the hill top cafes with rustic interiors serving hot maggie acts like a heaven.
Before I plan to travel to a place I make sure to learn about the famous cuisines the town offers and the best places to have it be as small as a sweet dish to some chaat or a sea food.
And it is interesting how you relate to that particular place with the food or the aroma in it or even the traditional style of preparing it even after the trip ends.
I still remember we were told to stay away and be safe with the food stalls as you don’t want to become sick while you are travelling but I really can't afford to miss out what the place has the best to offer and when it adds to my experience of the place. Street / local food is also good if you are doing the budget travelling because fine dine can even make the hole in your pockets without actually much discovering anything new about the place but these stalls would give the best of taste in the best affordable condition.
Even if you are not planning to connect the food with your travels, it somehow becomes the part of your trip and you end up asking the cab person or the hotel man to tell you what is the most famous cuisine or where you can get the best food?
I still remember the bicycle man serving misti Doi(sweet curd) and Rabdi which was the best thing to calm ourselves from the scorching sun in Shantiniketan. The town makes me remind of Bengali Cuisine. Did I say Bengali Cuisine? Yes because the resort presented authentic & traditional Bengali cuisine even for the vegetarian people like me. We were served with warm and aromatic bhaat(Rice) with Posto Bora in green lotus leaves. Before this I have never loved rice this much and I ate like it was my last meal.
When I travelled to Leh and while all the people were having the hot tea against the chills of Ladakh and Khardungla, and I was shivering and refused to have tea because I don’t really like the smell and flavor of tea and I never had it since childhood, and then the lady offered me a traditional and their local drink named ' Kahwah' which contains saffron and cinnamon that helps to keep the body warm. And later I was mostly seen sitting by the window and sipping the same. Today even after 2 years of the trip the first thing which comes in mind with Leh is 'Kahwah' and the warmth of chills in it. I have never loved thai food but i remember a cafe in Ladakh serving thai food and their thukpa was a treat to my taste buds.
While you live away from home for a long time or when you need a vacation from a vacation I am sure you miss 'Ghar ka Khana' (Mommy's Kitchen) more than your bed and bathroom.
My five years of Graduation ended with knowing which part of the city serves what and where can you get the best sandwiches, cold coffee or the chai.
That is the power of food, it helps you connects with the place in the most profound way possible. Imagine a dining with the community or the friends you have and the memories it create. In the similar way it connects a particular place and the memories attached to it.
The world is full of incredible foods tempting to be eaten and they are just a road trip away or even as close as a next street. And even if you're not a foodie - well, you still have to eat, right? So why not eat a little, and make memories with the place.
Even if this concludes me as a big foodie then i don't regret being one.
Happy food travels and do share your travels with the taste !