One of the biggest challenges that many people have when traveling to countries that they have never been to before, and don’t speak the local language, is knowing how to choose food that they will enjoy. Many look for familiar restaurant chains, and can often find themselves disappointed in their choices because the local ingredients used are not what their palette expects. Most of us want to try new foods and get a feel for the local flavors and dishes. And though some people have the means to eat out in high-end restaurants when traveling, many of us have more modest means.
In my travels, I have been challenged in just this way, and from my experiences and triumphs, I have come up with a list of 10 tips to help people navigate their way in choosing food around the world.
My Top 10 Tips for Choosing Food When Traveling Around the World
- Choose an eating establishment that is nearly full of people who appear to be local. This will tell you that they enjoy the food there.
- Look at the logo design or creative images that adorn the establishment. You can glean a lot about what type of food they serve there and their art will reflect this.
- Use your phrase book or dictionary to decipher the name of the place you are interested in trying. Keywords in their name often depict the type of food they are serving.
- If in a warm climate, look for how the unprepared, or displayed food is being cared for. You should be concerned about refrigeration, covers for food that is on display and the general cleanliness of floors and walls. Take a moment to look around before you go in.
- If you can, view the food discreetly that is being brought to tables as you approach the entrance, or as you are waiting to be seated. This will help confirm, or reject, your choices.
- Avoid the places that have hired people to brandish huge menu cards outside and verbally try to lure you in, unless you are lucky enough to have befriended a local person and they themselves take you there. It’s an inexpensive and dubious form of advertising.
- If the staff speak your language, ask them questions about the food. Most service staff are friendly and helpful. It’s in their best interest.
- Ask the staff or fellow guests at your hotel or hostel about their experiences with food. If you are in a hotel, remember that the tourist guides provided are paid to advertise and will not give you an accurate review.
- Find out before you get to your destination what local foods are in season while you are there. A trip to a food market may offer you the chance to get to know some local names of foods that you know the name of in your local language and this can be most helpful when you get to your eating place.
- Be bold and point to food on another table that you believe you want to try and don’t know what it’s called. Service staff truly want you to enjoy your meal experience and from my point of view, always willing to help that happen.
I hope this list will assist when you choose to travel to far off lands and experience food adventures around the world. This beautiful planet offers such a vast array of truly delightful dishes and discovering some of them makes a holiday in a new country something very special indeed.