• Ian Berger

A Pedacito Of Food From My Travels Around The World

Updated: Jun 2

One of my favorite ways to engage with culture is to learn about and try the foods associated with each culture. Food is something we all share in common, so it is an easy way to relate and learn about one another. Over my travels, a few places have left remarkable impressions in large part because of their food.

A brunch feast with my wife in Spain
A brunch feast with my wife in Spain

Tapas From Spain

My wife and I were able to travel through different parts of southern Spain for a few days. While we were there, the two main foods that we loved were tapas and chorizo. On my wife’s birthday, we went to a few shops to grab various groceries, including chorizo, and then came back to our Airbnb for a brunch feast.


Chorizo is a type of pork sausage unique to Spain. Tapas are appetizers/snacks consisting of small portions that people will share for dinner or a late snack. Some of our favorite tapas were: salmorejo (cold tasty soup), albondigas (meatballs), cod confit (fish), and croquetas de jamón.


On one evening, we ventured through the streets of Grenada to find a tapas restaurant. On this occasion, when we both ordered a drink, a free tapas plate was served. Of course, this made us want to buy another tapas dish or two to complete the meal. Apparently, it is common to receive one free dish when the party gets a drink.


Streetfood In Thailand

In the city of Chiang Mai, one of the greatest food treasures you can find is often on the corner of most streets - mangoes. Now mangoes in Thailand are special, the only equivalent I could find in my home country are called champagne mangoes (which aren’t very common and still aren’t quite the same).


At one of these corner stands a few of the options are mango sticky rice, mango smoothie, or just plain mango. You watch them make it in front of your eyes so freshness is guaranteed.


I’ve come to learn that there is a big specialty coffee scene in SouthEast Asia. When I ventured to Thailand, I was surprised by the quality and quantity of coffee there. Beans are grown in-country, so there seemed to be a widespread of quality coffee to go around and export. One of my favorite cafes in Chiang Mai is Graph Coffee Co.

A cup of coffee in Chang Mai, Thailand
A cup of coffee in Chang Mai, Thailand

The first time I remember having Thai food was actually in Thailand. While I enjoy a good Pad Thai, the meal that won my attention foremost was Khao Soi - a wonderful curry meal distinct to Northern Thailand.


Since I am from America, my taste buds and stomach had some initial shock from some of the strong spices and peppers, but after a short adjustment period, I came to really enjoy the sweet, hot, spicy, and unique flavors in this curry and others like it.

A delicious mango smoothie I had in Thailand
A delicious mango smoothie I had in Thailand

Shawarma And Hummus In Jordan

Two words come to mind when I think about the food of the Middle East: shawarma and hummus. Luckily, I found both in Jordan. Shawarma is when meat is stacked on a cone and cooked, then shaved off and put into sandwich wraps. It’s often paired with french fries and other toppings.


While not the healthiest meal, shawarma is a savory meal option that hits the spot, is cost-effective, quick, and easy to ask for in a country that you may not speak the language in.


Hummus is a dip that is made of ground-up chickpeas, tahini, and lemon juice. It’s usually eaten with fresh, warmed pita. In the United States, there are pre-made hummus brands in grocery stores that have their place, but nothing compares to fresh hummus from the Middle East with fresh pita bread.


I could find it on most streets and it was only about the equivalent of a US dollar or so.

The Market in Grenada, Spain we bought groceries from
The Market in Grenada, Spain we bought groceries from

Food can help us understand cultures better and create cross-cultural friendships when abroad. If you ever find yourself in any of these countries, I hope that you’ll consider trying the foods that have left an impression on me. Enjoy!

 

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