Endless Story #3 Eat Local and Like a Local

Aug 11, 2021

I'm not really into culinary when traveling because of the budget. The higher the cost of living of a country, the more I will try to tighten the budget by cooking our meals. But occasionally I try some local foods to satisfy my curiosity.  

Traveler Episode 4 - Jun Yeol and Je Hoon had their first breakfast at the hostel

In each episode of Traveler, there are some moments of them sitting at dining table having breakfast and conversation. The meal they are eating does not make me craving for food. But the above scene makes me remember the best breakfast I ate during vacation. 

A dining table with view of Innsbruck city tower, Austria
Wow, how come we could have a full breakfast when we had to save money during our 2 months trip in Europe?

Eating local foods is one of the moments that color our trip. Trdelnik —cylindrical cake that easy to find in every corner of Prague tourist areas. Just eating yakiimo —roasted sweet potato, in the middle of autumn while having conversation with a stranger really warms my heart. Also the spice tolerance of Korean people is amazed me. 

It is exciting to eat from local street food vendors. By eating local foods, we're not only get to enjoy gastronomic experiences, but also to communicate with local people, learn what they are proud of the area's vibe. 

But to be truth, as a moslem there is limitation for us of what can be eaten safely. On our trip to Europe, we are addicted to pylsa —an Icelandic hot dog that is made mostly from lamb and currywurst —a fast food dish of German origin consisting sausage seasoned with tomato paste topped with curry powder. I just browsed that pylsa is made from lamb, along with pork and beef and currywurst is made from pork. Astagfirullah, I seek forgiveness from Allah. This is a reminder for us to be more careful.

Traveler episode 10 - The taste of Cuban cuisine

It is not always fun when trying local delicacies. In the last episode of Traveler, they recollected their culinary experiences in Cuba. Not all of them are good, there are times they shocked and tormented. The tasteless creamy pasta, the chewiness meat, the extremely salty risotto, and the strange soup taste they ate. In our trip to India, it was a heaven for Bre but I had to bring fruits like banana and apple to hold my hunger. When Bre savored Indian cuisine, I always order bread omelette or boiled egg because I don't like the smell of strong spices they used. At the seaside of Patong beach, we eat seafood from street vendor that made me shocked for its rawness. We didn't know if it's cooked or not because of the dim lights. 

Traveler episode 10 - Recollecting their Cuban food experiences

The local dishes were aggressive enough to bruise all of our body, but some of them did shine like pearls in the mud. The delicacy of Portuguese egg tart made me visit each time there are food stands in the corner of Macau. Even though I am not fond of Indian food, every time we stop by a locally owned restaurant I always order Masala chai —a tea beverage made by boiling black tea in milk and water with a mixture of aromatic herbs and spices. Eating chocolate ice cream at local shop in the Brugge little town made me believe that Belgium is a chocolate paradise.

When eating in local shops during trip, don't expect too much because people have different taste of delicious. Give your chance to connect with locals. When visited a random mosque in Phuket, I was sitting in local shop waiting Bre attended Friday prayer. I don't really remember the dishes I ate, but I remember the conversation I had with the shop lady. It was really a long conversation that we had enough laugh and story to share. On my trip to Kyoto, I visit a local ramen shop in Gion two times. First I didn't get a chance to enter the restaurant because of the wrong time. In the next day, I stood on queue and had to wait in front of the restaurant for more than half hour. To kill the time, I was having conversation with other traveler. We talked about many things so the time passed by quickly. 

All of the trips I did, the one that I enjoyed culinary is when traveling to South Korea. It is because of Masta Kimchi, a small business focused on South Korean dishes that my best friend and I established since 2017. We started from making homemade kimchi then had a plan to visit this country after having enough saving from selling kimchi in two years. During our trip to South Korea, we really enjoy Korean delicacies. In lunch or dinner, we always focus on choosing what to eat. From Myeongdong street food to local restaurant. From the sweetness of Chieju-tteok-kkochi —a baked cheese rice cake to the spiceness of Jjukkumi barbecue —a spicy grilled baby octopus. After return from South Korea, we got an idea to sell ready to cook Korean bites like Tteokbokki and Odeng.

They are not just inspire you. Some of them left an impression. I remember my trip to Makassar, every local restaurant will serve you a free refill cold mineral water drink. You got this same treatment in South Korea. I can understand the heat waves in Makassar increase your craving for cold water. But in South Korea, you got this cold water all year around even in the fall, winter or spring.

Traveler episode 8 - After two weeks full with local foods, they are craving for food full of MSG.
They used electric kettle they bought just to cook the ramen.

While on trip, I will always bring my favorite Indomie Goreng, one of the best instant noodle in the world according to LA Times Rankings. There are times when you are craving for MSG and it is the time to enjoy your favorite instant food. My second favorite is Nongshim Shin Ramyeon, the one that showed on above scene. I remember before arranging a trip to Iceland. We went to asian local shop in Paris to buy 6 packs of Nongshim Shin Ramyeon imported from Thailand and found out that was the most spicy instant ramen I ever eat. On other asian countries I also tried eating their favorite instant noodle like Maggi Noodle, India's favorite instant curry noodle. I even found a hidden gem in the narrow streets in Macau, a local shop that sell Sedaap Mie Goreng. It was fun for at least once in a while we satisfy our crave for junk food. 

Coming home after long trip, I believe you will appreciate your country's local dishes even more. You'll be craving for anything you could not eat while on trip. And in the past few days of traveling, you will learn that every local dishes is worth of story for you to tell to your friends. 

1 comment

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