Dozens of foods can be traced to a place … Buffalo chicken wings, for example, are named for the northern New York city where they were first created. Italy and pasta are practically synonymous. The list goes on and on.
You may even have noticed how different a regional classic is the further away you get from its creation. French food in St. Louis is never going to taste the same as in a bistro or boulangerie on the Rue Sainte-Anne in Paris. Much of the reason for that is due to the way the ingredients are made and rules and regulations about how restaurants cook their food.
As a traveler, I’ve experienced these differences … and shared them with others. A favorite vacation story is about the first time Greg had a beer and bratwurst in Germany. He’d had them before. He’d even had them in places in the U.S. that are known for German cuisine. The “real thing” opened his eyes and left him drooling for more.
The lesson is clear … eat local. Let the smells and the flavors of a place enhance your visit.
When you are near the Chesapeake Bay, get a dozen blue crabs. Have them steamed in Old Bay. Grab a “Natty Boh” and experience the perfect combination of local flavors.
When you’re driving across the panhandle of Florida through Alabama and Mississippi on your way towards New Orleans, stop at a local place along the shore and get some fresh-off-the-boat Gulf shrimp. Because it’s so easy for locals to get it, they know the best ways to cook it and your taste buds will reap the benefits.
Speaking of New Orleans, if you haven’t had gumbo or etouffee in the Big Easy, you are truly missing out. I even spent an afternoon on a visit there learning to make my own. I can’t duplicate my success at home, because I can’t get the right fresh ingredients in Arizona. But it was totally worth it!
Head further north and grab a real Philly cheesesteak when you’re in Philadelphia. Or experience the unrivaled tantalizing magnificence of a lobster roll in Maine (or Boston). Don’t miss out on your chance to taste the freshness of salmon when it’s in season in the Pacific Northwest; poke in Hawaii.
Traveling abroad? I didn’t even realize how many different kinds of curry existed until I wandered through a spice market in Mumbai. I tried two or three, but there are so many more.
A particular favorite is gelato in Italy, but there are so many regional specialties in that country that you simply must taste … anything Florentine in Firenze, seafood cooked like the Romans do or gamberoni and calamari in the south, the deep rich sauces of the north, meats and cheeses in Tuscany … and don’t forget the wine!
Schnitzel in Germany is practically a religious experience. The sausages at festivals are astounding. The bread … well, the bread defies description … crispy crust with soft tender centers. If you’re lucky it’s still a little warm from the oven. And then there are the deserts.
I could go on and on some more: mint tea in Morocco, fresh bananas in Peru, bread dumplings in Romania. When you’re deciding where to go on vacation, don’t forget to spend a little time finding out what foods to try. You’ll thank me later.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Eating local is part of the experience!