Trying local food is an important part of travel — not only do you get to try some brand-new flavours, food can also give an insight into the culture of your destination.
While some travellers like to stick to familiar flavours, we’re big fans of trying everything on offer (with perhaps a couple of exceptions). Megsy and Tommo from Food Fun Travel have the same philosophy, and have spent the last five years travelling the globe and tasting (or devouring) the local specialties.
How to find great food when travelling
When you arrive in a new destination, it’s easy to find yourself in tourist restaurants and international chains. And that’s okay — sometimes you just need the familiar! But to really experience your destination’s culinary scene, a little research (or serendipity) may be in order.
The internet is a great place to start — use TripAdvisor or other search tools to find nearby restaurants, and then read the reviews to get an idea of which are most worth visiting.
But don’t just read the English reviews, especially if you’re in a non-English-speaking country. Hunt out the reviews written in the local language, and check the reviewer’s location (if visible) to find reviews by locals. After all, restaurants that are popular with local residents are likely to serve delicious food!
Another way to get in touch with local opinion online is on Facebook. Do a search for food groups in the city or country you’re headed to, join, and ask questions such as:
- What’s your favourite restaurant in the city/country?
- What dish shouldn’t I miss?
- Where would you go for a really traditional meal?
Ask a local
You can also ask these questions in person, of course — if you’re staying in an AirBnB or couchsurfing, ask your host. If your hotel concierge is a friendly type, have a friendly chat. Talk to your Uber or taxi driver. There are plenty of ways to gather information about the best places to eat!
Go for a wander
Of course, you can also discover hidden gems for yourself. Go for a walk around your destination, especially around the backstreets, and keep your senses peeled — look for restaurants that are packed with locals, listen for the tell-tale sound of cutlery on plates, and follow your nose if you smell something particularly delicious.
Tommo and Megsy’s top food destinations
Georgia (the country, that is!)
This west Asian country is becoming more popular, as people realise that it’s a safe and delicious place to travel. Located on the Black Sea, with a border on Turkey’s east, it’s becoming easier to get to these days! You’ll probably fly into the capital, Tbilisi, where you’ll find myriad garden bars boasting barbecues wafting smoke into the air.
Make sure to try adjaruli khachapuri, which is similar to pizza, but shaped like a boat and coated in cheese and topped with an egg. This dish is also found throughout the country, and Tommo and Megsy recommend you head to the mountainside wine regions to enjoy this bready treat with a glass or two of wine.
They planned to spend just six months in Mérida, in the Yucatan region of Mexico, but 14 months later they’re still there! And the delicious food certainly played a part in that decision.
They recommend you try queso relleno — a whole cheese stuffed with a minced meat filling — and after extensive research, have decided that Manjar Blanco does the best queso relleno in Mérida.
And, of course, you can’t go to Mexico without eating tacos. While beef-head tacos hold pride of place, they’re all good — el pastor, carnitas, beef tongue. Try them all!
Not everyone’s crazy about trying the more… interesting… foods out there, but Megsy and Tommo jump right in.
Balut in the Philippines is probably the most outlandish thing they’ve both tried — yep, that’s the duck egg that comes complete with 16-day-old duck foetus.
Deep-fried tarantula in Cambodia comes a close second, and while the flavour was nondescript, the experience of watching the meal scuttle around the table before being cooked was certainly unique.
And sweetbreads, while sounding unappetising (they’re the glands of certain animals, usually cattle) are so delicious that they’ve become part of Tommo and Megsy’s regular diet in Mérida.
What about you?
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve tried while travelling? What are you keen to try on your next trip abroad? Leave a comment below!
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