One of my favourite parts of travelling is trying the local cuisine. Therefore, naturally, through my love of travel, I have also developed a love of food! In fact, nowadays when I book a holiday one of the first things I start researching in the local food. I spend hours scrolling through my Instagram feed and always set off with a list of ‘must-visit’ food destinations!
When I first travelled to America, I first discovered my love of food! Although, not quite at first…
After landing at LA Airport, transferring to Vegas and checking into our hotel my colleagues and I were exhausted. And hungry. Sitting in a booth at the hotel diner, I glanced over the menu and nothing really took my fancy. And I felt like something simple. So I ordered a ham sandwich.
This seemed like a fairly basic order. Yet when the waitress placed it on the table in front of me I was extremely surprised! The layer of ham was almost two inches thick! And the sandwich was accompanied by a side of chips… cold potato chips (or crisps as the Americans call them). I was instantly intrigued by this curious difference in our cuisine. And it got me thinking about how cultural norms have evolved in what we expect to see on our plate.
The sandwich was fine. However, it wasn’t exactly what I felt like at the time and it didn’t exactly tantalise my palate. So I instantly felt homesick and wondered how on earth I was going to survive ten days away. Even though I clearly wasn’t going to starve. In fact, I was somewhat amazed by the jumbo serving sizes in the US, as they are significantly larger than what we are accustomed to in Australia.
Throughout the trip, I also ate at all of the iconic American fast food chains- Burger King, Wendys and Taco Bell!
It was fun to try the iconic food that has become a part of the Western pop culture. But it wasn’t exactly healthy and eating fast food didn’t leave me feeling nourished or satisfied. Fortunately, though, dining in the US is not just about fast food. So when my colleagues and I dined at the finer local restaurants, I was suddenly impressed! Not only by the high quality of delicious food that was served. But, in particular, by the elaborate presentation which lead to my newfound love of food experiences when travelling. One evening in Las Vegas a workmate and I shared a fruit platter for dessert. Yet it was so ornate we were almost reluctant to eat it!
And I also remember sitting in a Japanese restaurant in San Francisco and watching the waitress emerge from the kitchen. She was triumphantly carrying a plate of sushi stacked so high it resembled Mt Fuji! Presented with dry ice steaming from the peak it created a dramatic impact. It was, by far, the most impressive meal I have ever seen and the creativity of the chef sparked my interest in international cuisine.
Since then, I have gone on to travel Europe where their love food is the heart of the local culture.
Needless to say, I enjoyed copious amounts of food in Italy, where I was even invited to attend a traditional six-course dinner with the locals. I fell in love with their fresh blue cheese gnocchi and, of course, enjoyed a glass or two of Prosecco! In fact, my memories of holidaying Europe include all sorts of cheese, fresh bread, pastries, antipasto, pasta, pizza, hearty meat dishes, beer, wine and vodka!
More recently, I have been travelling throughout South East Asia and last year I spent the majority of my week flying in and out of Bali for work.
(Read more about that here!) In contrast to Europe, in South East Asia the humid tropical climate lends itself to somewhat lighter dishes. However, the locals still love to cook with fresh local produce. Asian cooking is one my favourite cuisines, with its fresh aromatic blend of spices and plenty of chilli!
Personally, I love a lot of heat in my food and typically a lot more than most Westerners can handle! Travelling can leave you feeling lethargic at times. So rather than ending the dining experience in a food coma, I love to get my metabolism going!
When travelling, I also have a curious desire to try the local delicacies.
Including the more unusual produce such as insects and spider wine! I don’t necessarily have a strong stomach but I’m usually willing to take my chances. After all, cultural diversity is what makes travel so interesting and the different palate of various cultures is a fascinating aspect of humanity and evolution.
Some of my favourite experiences have involved travelling foreign countries and finding the hidden haunts where the locals dine.
Or simply, wandering down the street and stopping to sample produce from the local vendor.
Many travel websites warn again street food, but it’s one of my favourite ways to try local produce! Personally, I love the markets and the best ever Pad Thai I have ever eaten was served on the side of the street!
Through my adventures travelling Asia I have discovered some amazing places to dine.
Generally, I prefer healthy options and am obsessed with smoothie bowls, fresh juice, protein shakes and of course, coffee! Although coffee is not something that Asians are typically good at, many Balinese restaurants have catered to the tourist market and learnt to perfect the blend.
And as much as I enjoy the Asian cuisine, I also love Mexican food, as well as Greek and Italian classics and I do enjoy a good burger too. As a popular tourist hub for Westerners, Bali deserves recognition for being a haven for international food lovers like myself!
During my year in Bali, I enjoyed fusions of international cuisine from all around the world! I have even compiled a Bucket list for food experiences and I’ll now start sharing restaurant reviews with you through a series of food posts in this section of my blog. If you share my love of food, I’d love to hear your tips on must-visit food destinations you’ve stumbled on during your travels!