How do you become a foodie? For us, it was quite the journey. We had to learn what was good local food and how to find it? Do want in on the secrets?
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In this episode of Streets and Eats, Jim and Corinne discuss their long road to becoming foodies. From their humble beginnings of being from large families that had more important things to do than training their palates, to scoping out the best places to eat in all the cities and countries that they’ve visited. Looking back on growth always includes a few embarrassing stories, and this one has a few as well.
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How We Became Foodies – We Call it Training Not Calories
We love eating! I think that’s rather natural, but in all fairness I envy those people that just eat to gain nourishment and move on. That’s not me.
I wake up thinking about all the food I want to consume that day. If I’m traveling, I think about the next meal as I’m consuming the current meal. Before I go, I’ve planned out a lot of dishes that I want to try. Why? Oh why? Because it’s amazing.
Food is Culture
Getting to know the dishes of a culture is something that really adds to a travel experience. It starts from the where the food comes from, how it’s farmed or made, where you can buy it, what foods are eaten during holidays, what foods are eaten at home, and then of course how this translates to the restaurants. How can you get good local food at a restaurant?
Can you imagine visiting the United States and not having a hamburger, hot dog, or slice of apple pie? These items are so American! How about going to England and not having fish and chips. Going to France and not having a croissant or baguette? These foods are representative of their cultures and we wouldn’t dream of missing out on them.
The problem exists, though, when you either don’t know much about the food culture of a place you’re visiting or you know of the one or two things to try but not more than that. Yes, you had a hot dog in New York City, but did you have a slice of New York Cheesecake or try some traditional bagels? Or maybe you tried the fish and chips in London, but did you try the Banoffee pie? Or did you have a Croque Monsieur in Paris? You see there are so many more iconic foods to find out about. And that is one thing we love doing.
Our Road on How We Became Foodies
- Jim’s family relied on the Joy of Cooking to expand their ideas of what to make. When he was young, there wasn’t a lot of experimentation with food.
- In Corinne’s family, we didn’t experiment much either, but we did live in England then in Turkey, so we did try new things. One poignant example was trying Turkish Borek for the first time.
- We met and married in Germany, so we did try lots of German foods. We loved everything from schnitzel to Kaiserschmarrn. And really, living in a different culture, we definitely started to accept foods we weren’t used to, but we still had a long road ahead. Now we ate two kinds of food – American and German.
- We branched out to the places near us and started loving the baguettes and croissants. We knew we could go to the local grocery or patisserie or boulangerie, but we didn’t understand how to find good local foods in restaurants…you know full meals.
- We ate in a lot of tourist restaurants.
- So, we began our journey to find restaurants serving more authentic food that is a good example of it. Too many tourist restaurants don’t have return customers, so they don’t have to maintain a high standard of taste.
- Finally, we discovered that taking a food tour or cooking lesson is a way to learn a lot more about the local food.
How do You Know You Are Eating in a Tourist Restaurant?
There are a number of clues to tell you when you are going to a tourist restaurant. Here are some ways to tell:
- If the restaurant is right next to or across the street from a popular tourist sight.
- If the restaurant is located in a highly visited tourist area.
- If there is a wall of menus outside the restaurant in many languages.
- If touts are trying to get you into a restaurant.
- If you look inside and see lots of people who are probably not locals.
- If the host or tout offers you a free drink or something to enter the establishment.
How to Find a Restaurant of Great Tasting Local Foods
- Don’t rely on apps that only tourists are using for reviews. It’s skewed data.
- Walk a block away, into some back streets, to find restaurants that don’t cater to tourists, but to locals.
- Ask people where the best food is.
- Ask on Facebook groups that cater to traveling where you are.
How to Find Good Street Food
- Go where there’s a long line. That means the food is fresher.
- If the food is supposed to be hot, eat it hot. And if it’s supposed to be cold, make sure it’s cold.
- Again ask.
These are themes that we will return to over and over again in our podcast and on our blog, because the truth is…we love food. We want to have the best food we can while we’re traveling, and oftentimes, we’ll add it to our repertoire of dishes that we’ll make at home as well.