Oh, food. How I love thee, let me count the ways. One of my favorite expressions is, 'Some people eat to live, some people live to eat.' I'm sure you can guess which category I fall into. Food is so much more than subsistence for me, it tells you about the culture, the history, the spirit of a region. Local food can teach you about what has grown in an area for centuries, the animals that are native to the land and what will be freshest in that locale. Through out my life I have been blessed to be surrounded by foodies. My mother and my grandmama are superb chefs in their own right. The delectable delights I have sampled in my life have led me to acquire a broad palate. However, when cooking for myself and Ben, I tend to stick to simple, homey, healthy recipes with lots of delicious seasonal vegetables and light sauces. However, I will never shy away from eccentric, ethnic, rich foods if given the opportunity. As a result, I love almost all foods as long as they consist of fresh ingredients and complimentary flavors. In Europe, Ben and I would comb the streets searching for the perfect gem of local cuisine.
10 Tips for Eating Locally while Traveling Globally:
1 - Look for Menus that are not in English.
2 - It's a good sign if there are mainly locals hanging out and dining.
3 - The local beer/wine should be first on the drink menu.
4 - The dishes central to the region should be prominent on the menu.
5 - Leave the tourist areas, even a few blocks away will help. There should be no mention of pizza, hamburgers and the like (this ensures they are not catering to Americans)
6 - The menu should contain foods you know to be native to the region (e.g., pork in Prague, herring in Copenhagen..)
7 - Don't always go by the guidebook, they often know the best art, architecture, etc. but not necessarily the best food, unless it is a dining specific resource.
8 - Street food can be the best, if it is something you have never seen before, it is probably a local specialty.
9 - Find out the country's history, were they an empire or a colony of one? If they were, they probably have a large selection of the conquered or conquering country's cuisine. Think: Chinese in Amsterdam, Turkish in Berlin..
10 - Be open minded! The fried pork with sauerkraut and bread dumplings in Prague was one of my favorite meals, I wish I could find it in the states!
Here are some pictures of local cuisine from my last trip to Europe:
Bratwurst in Berlin, note the tiny buns!
Street food in Prague: Fresh pork sausage with
a piece of rye bread, mustard, horseradish, pickles and peppers
Fresh potatoes in Prague
Cheese in Prague
Pastries in Prague
Cheese in Amsterdam
Beer in Brussels
Hopus, a delicious blonde beer, in Brussels
Dessert at La Palais du Royal in Paris