Dining Like A Local When You Travel
Travel is about relaxing, exploring the new, enjoying an adventure and discovering new lands, however, travel is also about the food. With the rise of reality cooking shows and travel cooking shows with celebrity chefs, the spotlight is now shining brightly on local food in most regions around the world.
Fresh produce, local delicacies, gourmet food trails, walking tours, laneway eats and cooking schools are in high demand. Have you tasted a tomato in Italy?
I’m no different to you, and love to eat where the locals eat, wander through the local fruit and veg markets (yes even tho I’m not cooking anything!), seafood markets or through a supermarket, it’s interesting to see and learn about the local food!
13 Tips For Dining Like A Local When You Travel
1. Discover The University Or Technical Colleges
Restaurants, Cafe’s and Bar’s cater for students so provide menu’s with interesting low-cost authentic food. You’ll be really mixing it with the locals around these suburbs and districts, plus, you could discover other cheap eats in the area too and even practice a few words in the local language. Don’t be surprised if a few locals want to practice their English with you too!
2. Ask A Local
Wherever you go ask! People love to help people and locals are no exceptions. I discovered The. Best. Pasta. I’ve ever eaten by asking a store holder in the Leather Markets in Florence where I should eat. My criteria was the restaurant had to have authentic fresh Italian food that was off the beaten track, where locals ate and very few tourists knew about. Turns out it wasn’t that far from where I was staying!
3. Check Out The Local Newspapers And Magazines
Even if the publication is in a foreign language you can still read the graphics of an advertisement for a local eatery. The name will still be the same, as will the address, phone number and website, there’s always a few local restaurants advertising in their local paper.
4. Asian Eat Streets
You’ll really be mixing it with the locals if you wander down eat-street as we did here in Kuala Lumpur. As you walk along checking out what each vendor has on offer, you’ll also get a feel for what is plentiful and, therefore, fresh!
Don’t worry about sanitation and there are governing bodies to ensure that all food is kept refrigerated in most major cities, although I couldn’t guarantee that in remote areas! It’s SO worth it…and the flavors, don’t get me started! You’ll also save a bundle too as a meal could cost as little as a few $’s.
5. Dine With A Local
While you are googling, there are many websites that take bookings for families who welcome you into their home for a taste of some authentic cooking. Imagine sitting around a table, sharing a meal in Mamma’s kitchen in the heart of Tuscany? Here’s one website that caters for just that!
6. Know The Etiquette
Save yourself some embarrassment and read up on the local traditions, rituals and etiquette before you travel. Asking for extra cheese on your pizza is a no-no in Italy and don’t cross your chopsticks or stick them upright into your bowl of food in Japan as it’s considered extremely rude! But you can slurp the loudest when you drink your soup from the bowl in Japan!
7. Ask The Staff
Staff are an encyclopedia of information about what’s on in the local area and where the best places are to eat, especially if you want something specific such as gluten free, seafood or Mamma’s homemade pasta.
8. Explore The Local Markets
Local markets are a great place to pick up locally produced fresh fruit and vegetables. Great as a quick snack on the go, plus you’ll be introduced to some new fruit and veg, especially if you are in the tropics. You can also as for their recommendations for eating with locals too, they’ll supply lots of ideas!
Night markets in Asia are incredible, here in Kota Kinabalu night markets, we picked up fresh seafood, direct from the fishermen and had it cooked there and then. We could hardly move when we finished for around $4 each!
9. Find A Local Food Blog
Google is a travelers friend and I don’t have to explain to you how valuable the internet is for connecting people with people, and people with businesses, both locally and globally. Instagram is also a valuable search tool for local eats and restaurants, people love taking pictures of their meals and where they ate them. Guilty as charged!
10. Visit A Supermarket
You’ll spy some local delicacies in local supermarkets plus you can grab a light lunch too. If you are on foot sightseeing always start your day with a hearty breakfast, grab some crackers and a tin of salmon or tuna to ward off the growl and then you’ll be set for new discoveries for dinner. That’s exactly what I did in Paris.
11. Eat At Busy Restaurants, Cafe’s & Bars
You already do this at home and traveling overseas is no different. Eat where there are many diners as an empty restaurant allows sends a loud message…there is a reason it’s empty. Don’t, however, eat at crowded eateries near popular monuments, they’ll be full of tourists, paying a fortune to eat some pretty ordinary food. Yes, I’m speaking from experience!
12. Ask Your Own Network
Sometimes your friends and family have vacationed in the very place you are planning to visit. Ask around and, of course, Facebook is an easy place to gather information.
13. Travel For a Food Festival
It’s ALL about the food for many travelers with the sole reason for booking a flight and a local apartment is for the food festival that falls at a certain time of the year. A food festival could also coincide with a music festival so your food, entertainment, and travel cravings are catered for all in one. Does it get any better than that?
What are your tips for dining like a local when you travel?