Traveling is all about experiencing new cultures, learning about parts of the world far removed from your own and connecting with people of different nationalities and religions. If you happen to love eating, then it’s also about the food.
Food has long been a great way for a traveler to integrate with locals, whether it be fish and chips in the United Kingdom or something a little more exotic from a Vietnamese street market. Nobody, after all, wants to be the other side of the world and eating in a fast food chain that exists in their hometown.
Here are four ways in which you can experience the best local cuisine while you are traveling.
Connect to the local restaurant scene
The best way to experience local cuisine is obviously to go where locals go – and that can often mean heading off the beaten track. Take New York, for example. How many locals ever eat in and around Times Square unless they are going to a show on Broadway? Not many is your answer.
To experience a real taste of New York (or anywhere else for that matter), you need to look to the suburbs of a city or town, to where the real people live. In a world where TripAdvisor exists, that is now a lot easier. Find the number one rated pizza joint away from the hustle and bustle of downtown New York, and you’ll be enjoying a far more authentic taste of the city with authentic New Yorkers.
Don’t be afraid of going down the cliché route
Having said that, you shouldn’t be afraid of going down the cliche route when it comes to eating out. If you’re in Paris, it might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sample genuine French snails, frog’s legs, or any of those other weird things that the French eat.
This is true of anywhere in the world. Don’t be afraid to gulp down a huge steak or burger in between sticking it all on red in casino restaurants. Why not go for a barbecue in Australia or have a burrito in Mexico – sometimes, cliche food can give us experiences we can’t get anywhere else.
Visit a local food market
Over the last decade, food markets have become popular tourist destinations for travelers. Food market bucket lists are now a thing, and National Geographic has even produced the Best Food Market in the World list – with Toronto’s St Lawrence Market coming top if you’re looking for destination inspiration.
It isn’t hard to see why, as these markets are a great way to understand and experience local cuisine. It’s quite easy to lose yourself for hours at a time in a food market, wandering around and taking in the sights and smells. You can sample and purchase authentic local ingredients in a way that really takes you to the heart of the city or country you are visiting.
Eat with a local in their home
Airbnb brought travelers into people’s homes as an alternative to hotels, and now that is extending into locals inviting strangers in for a dinner party. Websites such as EatWith allow travelers to seek out locals who are looking to throw a dinner party for guests they don’t know. This can provide the unique opportunity of actually being able to go and eat a local meal with a local family in their home. You won’t find many experiences more authentic than that.