Why is it so important to eat local food when you travel?
If you love traveling, yet stay away from trying local food, you are not a traveler in the true sense of the word. True-blue travelers won’t shy away from tasting food of the region/city they are travelling to, because eating local food is an integral part of the whole traveling experience.
You eat local, you feel one with the place, you can understand it better and if you are lucky, you will fall in love with it.
Let’s take a closer look at why eating local is such a good idea:
Taste the local flavor
Why look for food that you eat at home, when you are traveling? Isn’t the whole idea behind traveling exploring and seeing and doing things you haven’t done before? So, why stop yourself from tasting local flavors, and eating what the locals eat? The whole idea is to make travel an immersive experience and it cannot get more immersive and engaging than trying the local cuisine. Eat what the locals eat. It will help you immerse yourself in the local experience.
Fresh food – you won’t fall sick
If there is one fear that haunts traveling families especially those with small kids, it’s the fear of an upset tummy. This typically happens when the food isn’t fresh or the cook adds certain ingredients that might not agree with the little one’s stomach.
One of the reasons for this is that the cook doesn’t really know what he is doing, because you’ve asked for food (the kind available at home), which the cook isn’t really comfortable preparing; and there is a good chance that the ingredients needed, aren’t fresh.
On the other hand, if you have local food, the ingredients are largely local, meaning they are fresher, which means your child’s tummy isn’t at risk.
(Note: While placing order, it is imperative that you ask how the food is prepared, so you can give special instructions, if any)
The Magic of seasonal veggies and fruits
If you are traveling to France in spring, you can eat the freshest seasonal vegetables and fruits like artichokes, avocados, green garlic, apricot and more. If you are traveling to India (especially Western India) in the month of May, you can eat the king of fruits – Mango. If you are traveling to Italy in February, you cannot miss its oranges and can eat food infused with fennel. We are trying to make a point about the availability of seasonal produce at the places you are visiting.
Seasonal veggies and fruits are used generously in local dishes, thus ensuring you can eat them to your hearts content. This is a one-of-a-kind, not-to-be-missed experience.
Break communication barriers – food is a talking point
There is a very good chance that you don’t know the local language and find it difficult to start a conversation with the locals around you. Local food can act as a conversation starter.
If a local sees you are eating a local delicacy the wrong way, there is a very good chance he/she will show you the right way. Or there can be a situation wherein you want to try local dishes, and ask for recommendations from a local. A local person can also tell you how a dish is prepared or how a particular food is grown.
There are many ways such conversations can happen, and these help you establish a connection with the local populace. And it’s important to remember, the local population appreciate tourists trying to imbibe their culture through their food. It can actually turn into a liberating experience for you, do give it a try.
It is fun and exciting
How many times have you met someone who have had the time of their lives on a trip, and a large part of the fun they had stemmed from the local food they ate?
Scratching your heads if you’ve ever heard someone who considered local food as a fun element of their trip?Conversations around the trip, typically, center on the places they visited and what they did there.
These people have actually missed something important.
Having local food is as exciting as seeing a tourist hotspot. Imagine, yourself researching about the top local foods in the location your going to visit, and ordering these local foods at a top-rated local eatery? This process is fun and the fact that you have never tried the local dish before is exciting. It’s something you have to do.
If you are eating local foods, you are also contributing to the local community in a small way. The reasons for eating local food can be many, but the reality is if you want make the most of your travel, eat local.
Siddhi Panchal is a food blogger at CookingwithSiddhi and food aficionado who loves to cook. Her cooking skills cover a range of Indian and international cuisines. Her aim is to enable other food enthusiasts explore their love for food by helping them cook delectable dishes from India and around the world. Follow her on YouTube.