Published On: Tue, Sep 15th, 2020

If You Can’t Travel, Explore the World Through Food

In light of public health concerns due to the coronavirus, we still can’t travel as freely as before. And who knows when that situation will improve, or what the future of travel will be like? Even though we miss traveling, we have to put our collective safety first.

So while the travel industry remains in limbo, people are getting creative in trying to satisfy their wanderlust. And one of the ways you can travel the world without going further than the nearest grocery store is through food. Here’s how you can start taking a tour of different countries by bringing their food experiences to where you’re at.

Research and collect recipes

Science can tell you how many calories are on your plate, or the nutritional contents of different ingredients. But when it comes to the complications of taste, formal scientific knowledge is still limited.

Thus, food is integral to tradition. We’ve been eating to survive on a daily basis through millions of years of evolution. Humans have naturally handed down knowledge of what tastes good and what’s bad for you, long before we could write or practice scientific study.

All over the world, traditional recipes have evolved to reflect the practical wisdom and culinary sensibilities of people as they adapted to local conditions and ingredients. You absorb that knowledge without the need for words, simply by savoring and appreciating food from another culture.

Get started by doing research of a different kind. Look for recipes from other countries that spark your interest, and save them to your Pinterest board. Or if you prefer the traditional method, write them down, embellished with honey bee stamps, in a scrapbook or journal. This ever-growing collection will be your guidebook on your food journey.

Explore your area

Before you start cooking, though, it’s worth considering one easy way to begin your local adventures in foreign cuisine. Depending on mobility restrictions and available establishments in your area, you might be able to dine or order takeout at local restaurants.

Throughout American history, people from all over the world have come to our shores seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families. These immigrants have brought with them their unique traditions and family recipes. In the spirit of entrepreneurship, many of them have started successful businesses based on their food heritage.

Sure, sometimes you just want to have a hot dog sandwich (sausages, by the way, were introduced to us by German immigrants). But if you’re feeling adventurous in terms of appetite, yet don’t have the time or effort to prepare one of your shelved recipes, try someone else’s take on that dish. Search for restaurants near you that serve dishes from another country, and you can begin your taste travels close to home.

Cook with regional ingredients

Restaurants aren’t the only way through which immigrants have entered the food business and broadened our culinary horizons. Across the country, you can find specialty markets and ethnic grocery stores selling ingredients from global food cultures. These would be otherwise hard to find at your local supermarket and can impart that final touch of authenticity when you start cooking those recipes you’ve collected.

You can also expand your search for rare ingredients on the Internet. Local dealers might accept orders online; the option for contactless home delivery could be preferable in the wake of the pandemic. Online retailers from across the country will be able to ship bulk orders of items ranging from Asian soy and fish sauce to Middle Eastern saffron and other spices.

Bring your family on board

When you start cooking dishes from other cultures, using ingredients native to those regions, you don’t need a travel guide to walk you through the adventure. Your often-neglected senses of touch, taste, and smell will be engaged, at least as much as sight and hearing, if not more so.

Cooking and eating food, there are no words necessary to communicate ‘delicious’. You can partake of another culture’s traditions simply by tasting what they have concocted and perfected over generations, using locally available ingredients. It gives you enjoyment and a perspective outside of your own limited experience, which is what we seek in travel.

However, as you explore the world through food, be sure to involve your loved ones. No matter where you’re from, traditional values emphasize bringing families and friends together at the table. And while science might not yet be able to explain the subtleties of taste, but it supports this conclusion: we should prepare and eat meals together. Take your family along with you, and travel together through your taste buds.

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