How much does food play a part of your travels?

Now that we are living and house sitting in France… food has become a big focus in our lives again! I long each week for the day we go to the local market or even the supermarche where the standard and quality of food is better than anything experienced for a long time (at a price of course)!

But wherever we’ve house sat around the world, part of the experience for us is discovering local foods, different cuisines, and enjoying cooking at home and experimenting with recipes and ingredients.

We love markets and the local “tianguis” in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico became our favorite hang-out for weekly tacos, as both a social experience and for inexpensive local produce.

  • How much does food focus in your travels?
  • What’s been your biggest foodie surprise?
  • Do you eat out more than at home?
  • Do you have a not to be missed restaurant?
  • Where have you found the best world markets?

What are your mouth-watering recommendations from around the world?

2 Likes

That’s one of the great things about travelling, the different food. My best experience was seafood in Spain. They were almost giving away the mussels, the oysters were huge and cheap and prawns were eaten almost everyday. Lovely.
Worst disappointment, cheese in the US. To get decent cheese you had to find a deli.
Best foodie experience was buying tuna in Guadeloupe in a street market. The vendor asked how big a steak then hacked off a piece from a huge tuna and wrapped it in brown paper. Best ever.

5 Likes

Oh I have to agree about cheese in the US … Mostly processed slices :flushed:. But… of late I’ve seen a turnaround and more high quality cheeses available from small dairies and delis like you sa… Especially last time in New England. I’m a total cheese snob so hope I haven’t offended any of our US members :crossed_fingers::grin:

Loved and lived off the fish in the Caribbean… heaven! That I could give up France for! Thanks for sharing!

4 Likes

I travel alone most of the time, so it is easier to eat out rather than cook for one.

In SE Asia the variety of food has been amazing. From street food in Bangkok to Kimchi and noodles in Japan, the last 3 years have been an amazing food adventure.

Sometimes though the simple things are best – one of my favourite meals is a “healthy breakfast” in Bali – fresh fruit with yoghurt and local honey, with a strong black Bali coffee.


Bali healthy breakfast

In Singapore, I love the local food courts. There are over 100 “towns”, or districts in Singapore, and each has its own food court. There can be dozens of food stalls, with Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, western, …… the choice is amazing. Singapore can be very expensive to eat out if you are not careful – the fish restaurants at Boat Quay can charge hundreds of dollars for a meal, but you can get some great food easily almost anywhere.

I also enjoy visiting Mcdonalds (!) in different countries – the menus are very different in each country.

I have enjoyed McDonald’s in Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Hongkong, India – each with a local/national flavour – sometimes rice rather than fries, meat-free (India), salads and fruit.


Me n ronald in Yokohama, Japan

The McDonald’s at Aberdeen Harbour in Hongkong was always busy during the day - all the old Chinese would meet there for a coffee or small meal, out of the heat - sit for hours in the airconditioned restaurant.

4 Likes

Your mention of the different menus at McDonalds in different countries reminded me of when I was a student in Lyon, France in 1993/4. The McBeaujolais Nouveau meal was available during the Beaujolais season, with a small bottle of Beaujolais instead of the usual soft drink! They also had nice salads.

6 Likes

That sounds like my type of McDonald’s!
I love my coffee, but don’t really get all the different types, and even in HK when all I wanted was “a coffee” I was amazed at the selection available.
The menu below is more my level :joy:

Coffee is also really big thing in Asia.

When I first went to Vietnam and asked for a coffee I was asked if I wanted it hot or cold. At that time I had never had iced coffee, but must admit that I am now a convert. It really is one of the best things on a hot day.

HCMC in Vietnam - every second shop is a coffee shop
Indonesia and Malaysia are really big on coffee.
Singapore almost had a rebellion when bubble tea shops were not on the “essential” list of shops which could stay open during lockdown !

5 Likes

You sound a bit like Ian who despairs of coffee shops, because he just likes a long black coffee and always thinks it’s overpriced compared to everything else. We were surprised that China (Shenzhen) was also very big on coffee shops. There was a Starbucks on every corner, but also some lovely boutique style places with all types of coffee brewing apparatus. Quite a surprise.

3 Likes

When I was teaching in Kuwait, and subsequently in Abu Dhabi, we as teachers used to sit on the dock of the bay at weekends waiting for the fishing boats to come back in with their catch of fresh fish. We would then buy prawns, shell and devein them and enjoy the freshest seafood in town … all for a few dirhams.

4 Likes

Having been born and raised on gourmet French food in Cannes, France, I am somewhat of a foodie, so we always try the local specialties, wherever we travel and house sit. My biggest foodie surprise were the green mussels In New Zealand, but I did not like the way they cooked them in restaurants, so I cooked them using my mother’s recipe for “moules marinières”. France has amazing open air markets with delicious fresh food offerings. We prefer cooking at home, so pet and housesitting perfectly fits our travel style. I have lived most of my adult life in Southern California and have acquired a taste for Mexican food. Jeff and I both love to experiment and cook international foods. Whenever I go back to France, I can’t wait to have a “petit pain au chocolat”! Now I am hungry and salivating, just thinking about it!

5 Likes

Like others have said, I do like to try local specialities wherever I travel, and I am willing to try most types of food. I’ve had snails on pizza, bat curry, frogs legs and so on.

Years ago I travelled to Iceland with 2 friends. We did a trip where we got to try a plate of several different Icelandic delicacies. We were advised what order to eat them in.

The final delicacy was a small cube of putrefied shark meat, set on ice. Apparently this type of shark has a high ammonia content, so when it has been killed, it is buried until the ammonia breaks down. It sounds horrible, but I figured that it must taste OK, or they wouldn’t eat it, would they?

I was the first of our trio to try the shark. I don’t think they had buried it for nearly long enough, it was awful, still tasted of ammonia and was extremely chewy. However, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t put my friends off from trying this unique experience, so I chewed it dutifully with as straight a face as I could manage, until they had also both popped a piece in their mouths!

5 Likes

love love love fresh seafood. On the coast of Ecuador we would go to the fishing villages, wait for the boats to come in and point at what we wanted. They cooked it right there and then. YUM! BTW, Vanessa, are you and Ian still following Keto?

2 Likes

@Vanessa-Admin and @ElsieDownie having been a cheesemonger here in Northern California, all I can say is “you were on the wrong coast!” The west coast is producing some of the world’s best farmstead cheeses. Within 25 miles of my home are over a dozen incredible cow, sheep, goat and even water Buffalo cheese makers and from California to Washington many are winning prestigious prizes (like Rogue Creamery winning the top prize at the World Cheese Awards!). Don’t count us out yet :wink:

6 Likes

@debbie you are not alone, even Anthony Bourdain could barely get that fermented shark down :joy:

Food, food, I love it! My favorite experience was my 40th birthday when my husband and I took a 5 day cooking and wine tasting class in a tiny town outside Barcelona. I would love to do that everywhere I go but usually settle for tasting as many local specialties as possible then trying to recreate some at home. The first thing we do before booking a place is look to see what’s to eat nearby!

5 Likes

Those mussels look divine Maryse, I might have to message you for your mother’s recipe! I’ve had to limit my purchases of French bread and pastries as they are SO lovely, if I carry on as I have been my exercise regime will have to double :slight_smile: Thanks for sharing!

4 Likes

You are a brave woman Debbie!! I’m quite adventurous with things I will try, but not sure I could do this one without gagging. Trying not to think of it as I approach my breakfast :laughing:

2 Likes

I did wonder… we were in Texas and the southern states for 6 months and it was very different to a later experience in both New England and San Diego/Los Angeles where the delis had a much better selection. I think it’s maybe about where to look! Next time we’ll do more research!! Thanks for that :slight_smile:

4 Likes

Oh, all of you are describing such amazing food and travel adventures! This working Mom of 2 aspires to all of this. Right now I am enjoying house and pet sitting through this site, staying in my region so I can drive there, get a nice break for a little while, and then drive home to my kiddos. So, someday a lot of these adventures will be ticked off my bucket list!

However, we were just in Nashville for a house sit through this site and we did taste “Nashville Hot Chicken.” I am semi-vegan, so I really don’t eat much meat but like all of you – love to try local cuisine. That was definitely a memorable experience.

And, this discussion takes me back to my travels to France as a high school student where we would smoke cigarettes (I would just take in the second hand smoke), pound morning double espresso shots, and watch the people go by while sitting in cafes. I have adored strong coffee ever since.

4 Likes