Finding the Food
Calling All Foodies
Finding a traditional meal can be a challenge. Most of us have been there; you are abroad with a tour group and you are dragged to an “authentic” lunch. You end up with soggy French fries, a greasy hamburger, and a hole in your wallet instead of spice infused deliciousness. Through many failed attempts, I have finally gathered a fool proof plan to find and devour those tasty bites.
Enjoying a flavorful plate of Tunisian cous cous with my Tunisian host mom.
The Perfect Street Food Bite
- Reach out to the locals. Once you arrive at your destination, ask the grocer or butcher if there is a place they recommend. Consider asking a local chef where they buy ingredients from. This can lead you to a fun day exploring and sampling delicacies in a local market.
- If you are the only foreigner there, you have done it right. This can be intimidating, especially if there is a language barrier. Don’t let it phase you, own it. You are guaranteed to get a real taste of the cuisine- not the watered down tourist version.
- Go off the beaten path. Don’t follow the masses. The best local restaurants I have been to are usually in a sketchy alley and very nondescript. Most of these hidden gems have no name and no indication they are a restaurant until you smell mouth watering aromas. Of course, being safe is just as important as pinpointing that steaming bowl of perfect hand crafted dumplings so be aware of you surroundings when you take the path less traveled.
- Look at host family options. In some countries, such as Morocco, there are some incredible dishes that you just won’t find in a restaurant. Since Moroccan culture places importance on family and community, many meals are eaten in the house- not on the street. Consider looking at an eco-tourism travel company that includes spending a night or two with a host family. This way you will eat the scrumptious food and be able to see how it is prepared.
- Look for quality. Being sick in a foreign country is not a great way to spend your vacation. No one wants that. When you browse the street food options, there are indicators you should be looking for. With fish, make sure there is no slime layer and trust your nose. If the fish smells particularly fishy, don’t risk it. If the fish has cloudy and sunken eyes its way past its expiration date. When searching for that perfect bite, also look for a stall with a high turnover rate. You want the food as fresh as possible.
In Jordan, cooking in the Wadi Rum Desert, or Valley of the Moon is just another daily task.
© 2018 Adelia Maghribia