One of the best things about traveling is the food, of course! Every culture can offer a different culinary experience, full of unique flavors and delicious recipes. When you’re traveling, you may only get to spend a couple of days in each city, so you want to make sure you get to experience the best of the food culture around you.
We’re going to let you in on a little secret, the key to finding the best food is to get off the tourist trails. Not only will you find the best food eaten by the locals, but you’ll also usually find that it saves you some pennies too!
Here are a few tips to help you get off the beaten track and emerge yourself in food culture. You’ll never travel the same again!
Do your research
One of the most important things you should do before you leave for your trip is to do some research. This way you will know exactly where the best places are to visit, and you can book in advance so that you don’t miss out.
There is an abundance of information out there for foodies, and with so much choice, it’s about researching to find the right restaurants for you. Along with your favorite travel books, you should check out websites, television shows, and take a look at the travel sections in local newspapers. These usually have all the latest trendy restaurants and best hidden secrets.
Make sure you check out some of the blogs seeking out adventurous dishes from across the world and don’t forget to check a culinary experience platform, like AirCook For You as well. You might also speak to friends or family who have traveled to the places you are going. Sometimes even other travelers will be happy to pass on their recommendations.
Hit the streets
If you really want to eat like a local, then one of the most authentic ways is to hit the streets so that you can stumble upon a hidden gem. One place to start is local marketplaces; you’ll find some of the freshest produce and some incredible street food while experiencing the local buzz. A lot of the time, these dishes are some of the most delicious and can save you a lot of money if you are traveling on a budget.
If you are lucky, you might be able to time your holiday with a food festival where you are sure to experience some of the most amazing local food. These happen all year round, in many places across the world. From summer seafood festivals to food trucks at music festivals and even the winter Christmas markets. Make sure you have a look online or ask your travel booker for more advice. They generally know where all the hot spots are!
Learn the local language
A pretty good indication of a local restaurant is that the menu is written in the local language. If this is the case, learning the language, or the basics can be extremely worthwhile. It will help you to find some incredible food, and you won’t have to worry about ordering any of the dishes.
If you do find that you are having trouble, many phone applications can help. Just take a photo, and it will transfer the image into English for you. Some apps even let you speak and will play it back in the local language. Technology really is fantastic!
Learning the language will also help you to ask locals where the best hot spots are. You can ask your taxi driver, someone at your hostel, or even a local at the bar. When you are asking them, try and let them recommend where they would go with their friends to avoid a touristy answer. The goal here is to experience another culture, not food that is designed for visitors.
Keep in mind the culture
One thing that people often forget when traveling is that different cultures have different eating times. For example, in some places, most restaurants close early at around 3:30 pm, and don’t reopen till later in the evening. On Sunday’s you may not even find an open Café, especially if you are in a small town.
To avoid disappointment, and truly eat like a local, make sure you do your research beforehand, or ask some of the locals for advice. For example, in Vanuatu, siesta occurs between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm. While some places remain open if you want to visit the markets to produce, make sure you avoid these times.
Don’t be afraid to be adventurous
Don’t be afraid to try something new, if you happen to stumble upon a local restaurant, let them choose something from the menu if you can’t decide. You also might want to check out a local cooking class, so that you can make your favorite dish back home!
Make sure you avoid the tourist zone, as the food is often of poor quality and overpriced. All it takes is a turn down a side street, and you will be amazed at what you can find. Every culture has its delicacy, and the only way to honestly eat like a local is to try their local dish. Whether it be pad thai in Thailand, a Sunday roast in London, Escargot in France, or Vindaloo in India, you’re sure to eat some delicious treats.
Step out of the central hub and explore new areas, you’ll find that taking a bus ride out of the city or simply walking into less well-known areas take you straight off the beaten track. Just remember to stay safe and keep a navigator with you so that you don’t get lost.
And that’s it! By following the above tips, you’ll be able to eat like a local and make the most out of your next overseas trip. Not only will you save money, but you’ll have some beautiful memories to remember for years to come.
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” – James Beard