Why I eat local
For me, eating local is part of the fun and adventure of travelling. Some of my most memorable travel experiences are having meals in the most remote places, or just eating street food fresh from a wagon in Bangkok. If you spend a few days in one place you soon get to know which places are the favourites for the locals too and when you also join them to eat you become more accepted and they are apt to open up and talk to you more.
Be global, go local, try native. Listen. Let go of a schedule
Be uncomfortable Don’t think you’re always right Connect with the local culture
I usually become a vegetarian when i travel as you never know what conditions the meat has been kept in before being cooked and served to you. It may have been cooked from frozen but more often than not it has been in the open air for most of the day with hundreds of flies having a free feast on it.
One of the benefits about backpacking and travelling is the chance to taste and try the food of different countries from restaurants to street food. Each country has its own dishes and specialities. There’s nothing quite like having rice soup with chicken for breakfast in Thailand, a Thali for lunch in India and a mountain of Lechon, rice and vegetables served on a banana leaf for dinner in the Philippines. Eating fresh local food in other countries certainly beats a takeaway from the Chinese or Indian back home.
I think you can learn just as much about a country through the food you eat as to the sights and attractions that you see. While cycling around the Cambodian countryside for instance, you always see women carrying baskets of food on their head. This food is for sale, so politely stop the woman and ask what she has to offer. It will nearly always be some snack bound for local consumption in the village. This way you get to interact with a local food seller and also taste real authentic food.
I also passed by a place selling fried locusts and stopped to take a closer look and ask if i could try one, which caused a few giggles. Most food vendors will let you have a taster and if you like it then you can buy some. At Ta Prohm I got talking to one of the vendors selling food from her trolley and after a while she invited me back to her house to meet her family and try some of their real home cooked food, in this case it was a snail and green leaf soup with rice.
In the Philippines i have been walking down the road and a local has stopped to talk to me and invited me back to their house where a coconut has been cut from the palm and a chicken slaughtered and before i know it i have been served a simple delicious meal. You will find that local people become more open when you interact with them and share their food.
Sometimes you have to take the risk of having an upset stomach and indulge yourself in local cuisine. I usually use my instinct that tells me whether i should or shouldn’t eat what is on offer. One of the best indications of good food is to find an eatery that is popular with the locals and is always busy. The night markets of Asia are where local people eat out. In Thailand the locals go to the market to buy their evening meal and take away in plastic bags to eat at home. Just try walking round a night market and sample all the foods on offer. They are cheap, tasty and filling.
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