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Traveling and food go together like peanut butter and jelly. Eating exotic local cuisine or trying out a famous restaurant makes any traveling experience feel complete. Even if you end up hating the food, you’re experiencing a key part of the culture and widening your taste buds. Below are many reasons to Try Exotic Local Cuisine while Traveling.
Facing Exotic Food Fears
In a perfect world we wouldn’t be afraid to try dishes that smell questionable or look like something out of a horror movie, but this isn’t necessarily realistic. While some people are more adventurous when it comes to trying exotic local cuisine, others have extremely picky taste and find it difficult to try something foreign.
If you fall on the fearful side of the line, my advice is to try new or exotic food while traveling, even if you think you’ll hate it. Compare this to jumping off a cliff: your heart races and the potential bad outcomes flood your brain, but after landing in the water below you feel magnificent. It really wasn’t so bad, was it?
Ordering local cuisine in a foreign county can be slightly intimidating if you can’t understand what the menu says. Even if you’re able to read the language, figuring out what the dish even consists of is a mere guessing game. Doing some research into local cuisine before traveling can make this process a bit easier, but it’s also fun to embrace the unknown and try something you have no prior knowledge of.
Regardless of your preferred dining style, it’s important to experience a healthy spectrum of food institutions while you’re traveling. Street vendors are great for affordability, and you might be surprised to find that they oftentimes have the best food. Indulge yourself by visiting that have one-of-a-kind dining experiences or a good reputation. If you want a full cultural dining experience and the money to afford it, are also another fantastic option.
Traveling to a developing or underdeveloped country is always risky because we’re more prone to getting sick from the food and water. Our bodies aren’t accustomed to the bacteria and food safety requirements are typically nonexistent or lower than what they are at home. Keep in mind that food poisoning happens everywhere, and the fact that you’re in a less developed country shouldn’t stop you from eating exotic food adventurously.
Before you leave, research for the country you’re visiting and use common sense. If a food vendor’s area looks dirty and is deserted, it’s probably a bad idea to eat there. Talk to locals and other travelers in the area to get insider advice, and take every opportunity you have to eat a traditional home cooked meal. In case things do take a turn for the worst, come prepared with anti-diarrheal medications and oral rehydration salts.
Cooking with the Culture
Dining out is all peaches and cream until it all starts adding up. Of course this all depends on where you’re traveling and what kind of budget you have set for the trip. For example, it’s more affordable to eat out for every meal in Asia since it costs under $1 a plate whereas in New York you’ll easily spend over $10 on each meal.
If you’re balling on a budget, preparing local cuisine at the hotel or hostel is a great way to save cash to spend on other activities. While this can be more time-consuming and requires more effort, it’s a great opportunity to experiment with new recipes. If you can get cooking advice or have the chance to prepare meals with the locals, take it!
Explore Local Cuisine
Amazing food and restaurant discoveries don’t always have to be made whiletraveling overseas in a foreign country. Your own home town could have some unknown dining treasures that are waiting to be discovered; it just takes a little extra effort to find them.
The internet provides an endless amount of information at our fingertips, so start by poking around on and restaurant review sites. You could also find a stranger on the street and ask them what their favorite local restaurant is; you could be pleasantly surprised.
Whether your travels take you a few blocks down the street or thousands of miles away to a foreign country, remember to indulge yourself and try exotic local cuisine you’ve never had before. It can be disappointing to get a meal you end up hating, but it’s not the end of the world and your trip won’t be ruined. Take some extra time to learn about where your dish comes from; each food has a unique cultural story behind it!
Bree is an aspiring travel blogger with a passion for exploring music festivals across the United States. Eventually she wants to study herbalism and incorporate that into nutritional counseling after traveling the world.
Follow Bree on twitter @BreeAllen11.
Bree Allen, Travel Writer | December 29, 2015