One of the delights of foreign travel over the years has been foreign food. Escargots in Burgundy, Momo in Nepal, Choucroute in Alsace, Paella in Valencia, Smorgasbord in Denmark, Kingklip in South Africa, all adding to the rich experience of the place. Yet there are many who travel abroad physically but who metaphorically never stray beyond the local fish ‘n chip shop, Pizza Hut or Macdonalds!
Our palate is as much an instrument of mindfulness as our eyes
Why not experiment with local flavours, trying out things never tasted before, especially what is fresh and available locally. Our palate is as much an instrument of mindfulness as our eyes as we admire a building, a painting or a mountain. You can learn as much about the culture of your environment from food as from language, architecture, music or literature.
The main example personally has been Nepal, my wife’s home: spices, pulses, different fruits and vegetables; meals with dishes of meat dumplings, blackened spiced meats, stuffed lungs (yes, lungs!), and many more with regional and ethnic group variations.
Our current trip is a Mediterranean cruise, and the big advantage with being on a ship from this point of view is that your “Hotel” moves to different regions or even different countries offering wonderful opportunities to taste so many different cuisines as you sit in a plaza or old street, preferably frequented by the locals rather than tourists.
The Chinese experience
Our best experience of this, though not a cruise, was being taken to a massive “workers restaurant” in China where not a word of English was spoken, the fixed price was around £5 for all you could eat and as much beer or soft drinks as you wanted. Lines and lines of counters had raw foods too that you took and cooked on your own hot plate and liquid pot embedded in your table. This was the REAL China.
So here’s to using ALL of our senses on this journey as our ship docks in the midst of foods ancient and modern, simple and complex, from sweet to salty and sour, all with as much need for mindfulness as the next cathedral, museum, gallery or ruined city. Let’s hope there’s as much variation in wine to accompany them!