How I Travel: Food, Glorious Food

THE BEST OF HOW I TRAVEL: Food Glorious Food!

Food is an integral part of the travel experience. Wherever you roam, you’re sure to find that what and how people eat is thoroughly intertwined with their culture, customs and spiritual beliefs. Over the course of 33 “How I Travel” interviews, food has come up almost every single time—with many of our guests offering their most impassioned responses on the subject.

This week, we take a look back at some of the most fascinating pieces of food related anecdotes, advice and warnings (!) that we’ve received to date—starting (and ending) with America’s Unofficial Ambassador of Gastronomy: Anthony Bourdain.


If you miss the street food experience? You’ve missed everything.

Street food is the best of a country – and strangely, much safer for you than the spaghetti bolognese at the Hilton. (Anthony Bourdain— food guru, TV host)

Who wants to go to Europe and eat carrot sticks?

Here’s a much better diet plan: eat anything that’s delicious and fresh. Walk a lot, and buy a second-hand bike. If you’re going to go the distance to travel, don’t sell yourself short on the food. (Courtney Scott—travel writer, TV Host)

I love trying different foods when I travel.

I eat local as much as possible and adhere to my own ethics and guidelines regarding food choices on the road. Fruit, veggies and water are key. I love learning about cultures through their unique foods and ways of preparing and sharing meals. (Susie Floros—snowboard team manager)

I love street food! My favorite is probably from Mexico.

Mexico has so many regions that each have specific flavors and traditions. The food is so vibrant. In the Yucatan you’ll get these beautiful little fried masa boats with glazed meats, tangy pickled onions and spicy sauce— the flavors are so bold, I think it makes the perfect street food. (Kelly Liken—chef, TV personality)

I’m not somebody who seeks out monkey brains to eat.

That’s not my style, but I do love street food. I seem to have good radar for finding good places and I tend to avoid asking the hotel concierge. You have to work a little at asking local people to recommend something and making sure they understand that you don’t want to go to the place with the tourist buses. Look for a busy place where most people are local and you’re probably going to find a good spot. (Susan Orlean— travel writer, non-fiction author)

I love trying new foods, and I always make a point of trying local dishes.

I like simple, conscious kinds of foods. Fresh fruit always. Loaves of bread, and olive oil are my other staples. (Claire Bevilaqua—professional surfer)

My favorite street food in the whole wide word are “doubles,” which you find in Trinidad & Tobago, usually sold by street vendors at around 3 o’clock in the morning.

They’re like little chickpea pancakes piled high with chutneys, spices and all kinds of Indian-Caribbean goodness that you roll up and pop in your mouth. I don’t know any other food that’s so worth a full day of diarrhea. (Andrew Evans—travel writer, guidebook author)

One of my greatest travel pleasures (well, greatest pleasures in life, really) is food – so the fact that I have the most sensitive digestive system on the planet is annoying.

I’m nervous about traveling in countries where I have to be wary about things like drinking the water or eating the street food. I’m going to eat it, because it looks so amazing and I hear such brilliant things about it, and I know I’m also likely to get sick. I get sick in the U.S. and Western Europe on a regular basis from eating what should be completely problem-free foods, fergodsake, so I’m confident in my ability to get sick when everyone else is just fine. If that means I have to budget an extra week into my trip to compensate for the amount of time I’ll be curled up in a fetal position on the bathroom floor, so be it. (Jessica Spiegel—WhyGo Italy writer)

My dietary concerns make eating in a foreign country difficult sometimes.

I recently lost weight in Paris because all of the amazing-looking croissants and pastries were off-limits. Once I was at a beautiful lunch outside of Barcelona when my insulin pump inexplicably stopped working. I had to return to our hotel so I could replace it, which was disappointing and a little embarrassing. Still, I made it back in time to go to a cava (sparkling wine) tasting, so all was not lost! (Robin Benway—fiction author)

I used to be quite an adventurous eater until about three years ago when I got a parasite.

We had a contest (also in Peru) in a relatively remote area and I got this parasite which pretty well ate away the lining of my stomach. Ever since then I’ve kind-of avoided any dodgy situations. (Amee Donohoe—professional surfer)

I like to eat local when I travel.

I find the touristy section of town, turn 180 degrees and walk half a mile. That’s where I find the good food. In Cusco, there were all these restaurants that had a “turistico” menu. Not a good sign. We walked just a few blocks further and found places to eat without a special menu. We had huge meals for a fraction of the price. (JoAnna Haugen—WhyGo Las Vegas writer)

I go weak in the knees when I’m face to face with good, authentic local food.

As a curious food-lover, exotic fare is a must-try when I’m on the road. From roasted cuy (guinea pig) in Peru to Spanish tripe stew and barbecued intestines in the Philippines, bizarre foods usually taste better than they look! (Nellie Huang – WhyGo Spain writer)

I believe one of the best ways to explore a culture is through food and drink.

Every place I go, I try to take a cooking class and learn about the local tipples. (@WhyGoChicago from the “How I Travel Twitter Edition”)

I like the way people in Vietnam eat—they don’t waste much.

Which is something the rest of the world—particularly in the United States—could learn from. (David Farley—travel writer)

One of the best meals I’ve had on the road—or, rather, in the alley—was in Hoi An, a prettied-up coastal town in central Vietnam.

There’s a particular dish there called Cao Lao: noodles in a pork broth with thin slices of pork and scallion and pork skin cracklings on top. As the legend goes, the only way to make cao lao is with the water from a particular well in town. I’ve heard a few people say they’d eaten it elsewhere and it just wasn’t the same. (David Farley—travel writer)

The best restaurants to me are the ones that are mobbed by locals.

My other trick is to tip the porter and ask him where he goes to eat when he’s off work—because then he’ll give me the place where he actually eats, rather than the place that the 4-star hotel tells him to recommend. (Peter Shankman—PR expert)

The best meal I’ve ever had on the road was fish tacos on the beach in Baja Sur.

We had been on the road all day and stopped at this little roadside shack. The husband would fish all day and the wife would fry up little strips of fish and put them in homemade tortillas. They had about 20 little salsas, salads and garnishes to top your fish with. I must have eaten 12! (Hosea Rosenberg—chef, TV personality)

As for food, we’re not stupid—we know fried foods are bad for us.

Sometimes it’s hard, food wise, but when you’re dealing with people, seek out people of like mind. I learn how to say fish in every language. Poisson, peixes, pescado…and I like certain kinds—so pescado blanco. And rice is everywhere. Give me rice, veggies, fish—I’m good to go. (Leon Mobley—musician)

A deep fried Scorpion tastes exactly like what you’d think it might.

You can find them in Bangkok, and probably other places. Some guy bet me a beer to eat it. I pulled off the stinger so I’m not sure how that bit tastes. I wouldn’t recommend eating scorpion unless you have a guy buying you free beer to do so. (Kyle MacDonald—author)

If you don’t want to get sick, stay out of the tourist traps and eat on the street.

The food is cooked hot and it sells quickly (meaning the vendors have to constantly buy fresh ingredients). (Steve Bramucci— travel writer)

I’m a moderately adventurous eater.

I love to try local food, especially cheap street food, but it has to be somewhat recognizable. Puffin – okay it’s a bird. Whale – hey it looks like red meat (and tastes like it too). But bugs and slimy stuff? No way. Dogs and horses? Also no. My general rule is that if I ever had it as a pet, I won’t eat it.(Katie Hammel— BootsnAll features editor)


You have to get over your fears and eat the street food.

Food is such a huge part of a culture that you miss out if you stick to ‘safe’ foods. The most memorable meal I’ve had was in Vietnam: I was walking down the street and saw someone cooking razor clams. So I sat at a little table, about a foot and a half off the ground, got a huge bowl of razor clams steamed with the perfect balance of sweet, salty and spicy and had an ice cold beer. All for about $2. (Stephanie Izard—chef, TV personality)

Eat everything offered.

Pretend it’s Grandma offering. (Anthony Bourdain— food guru, TV Host)

“How I Travel” is a BootsnAll series publishing every Tuesday in an effort to look at the unique and diverse travel habits of some of the world’s most well known and proficient road warriors. Got ideas for who we should talk to? Drop us a note.

You’ll find links to all the “How I Travel” articles on the How I Travel Archive Page, you can become a fan of “How I Travel” on Facebook, and you can follow the @howitravel profile on Twitter to get updates as soon as new features in this series are published.

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