Recently I came across a BuzzFeed article entitled 17 Foods American’s Miss While Living in Europe. I was struck by this idea because it implies a lack of interest in the food of wherever you’re visiting. Yes comfort food is called that for a reason, and there are things we miss that some might think trite or silly but are meaningful to us. That said, learning to adapt and absorbing a culture is part of the experience of travel and nowhere is this more profound than in tasting the food of a new country or region.
Through food we are literally able to taste another culture. We get a sense of how a people has adapted to living in their specific environment. We are introduced to new ways of appreciating food, and new customs of how to eat. It goes beyond simple politeness to try what you’re offered, embracing the cuisine of another culture. It is essential to gaining a deeper appreciation of a place and its people.
If you’re doing nothing but seeking out familiar flavors you are cheating yourself out of a truly immersive experience. In particular if you are not going to be in a place for long, food is an immediate way to introduce yourself to where you are.
I don’t mean to diminish to phenomenon of homesickness. We’ve all experienced this, and it is one of the most painful emotions to go through. And it is true that one of the best ways to combat homesickness is to find somewhere, someone or something familiar. It helps us relax and not feel so alone. Because food is so intrinsically linked with our culture it is natural that we should want to taste something that reminds us of home.
What we forget, however, is that the serving and eating of a meal is a communal activity around the world. So to battle homesickness, it is crucial to find people to eat with. This helps establish a sense of normalcy while you taste foods that may seem foreign or strange.
The foods we miss will be waiting for us. You may even find you end up missing the food you had abroad more than the food from home!
Do you struggle with craving food from home when you’re abroad? How do you combat the desire for familiar food while traveling?
Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha