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How to Be a World Traveler in Your Own City

Updated on April 12, 2018
aesta1 profile image

Mary works on international development and always find ways to promote global understanding.

International Food is the Way to Go

What do most world travellers talk about when they come home? Maybe a beach or a funny looking building but for sure, they'll talk about the top cuisine of that country, the most delicious food they ate and the menus they saw.

But you know what? You don't have to leave Cleveland or Hamilton to have the same stories. And remember, food is a cornerstone of culture. Today, there are so many restaurants in almost every city which offer food from places you don't even know exist.So, here are your best chances to experience what your friends had on their last trip:

  1. Explore the international restaurants in your own city.
  2. Eat food you have not tried before
  3. Shop in ethnic stores
  4. Use exotic spices

Octopus Salad
Octopus Salad | Source

Experience the World through Cuisine in Your City

In the picture above is a very delicious Octopus Salad which I had in Dubrovnik but I definitely know that I can get this dish in Danforth, Toronto.

Somewhere in your city is a Thai restaurant that really wants you to have a great food experience. Not the local rice mill that last week was the Heart of Korea and next week will be the Soul of Harbin but a real Thai restaurant with at least one Thai in the kitchen and a menu that looks at Pad Thai as just a minor dish.

You are what you eat and even more importantly, what you eat tells the world something about who you are. Get up, go out and follow the wafting aroma in the air. Ask around especially among the immigrant community where they go if they want some comfort food from the country they came from.

Spanish Traditional Cuisine
Spanish Traditional Cuisine | Source

Eat food you have not tried before

Twenty years ago, the only Chinese restaurant in town sold greasy chop suey and other definitely not Chinese dishes. Today, you'll find Sichuanese restaurant, certainly one from the south, and if you're lucky a Mongolian restaurant (Inner Mongolia), with someone in the kitchen who really understands local cuisine. Or French or Italian (not a pizza house) or a Greek or Turkish Palace with smells that began in the streets of Athens and Angkora. Part of this is just attitude.

Jump into Wikipedia and spend ten minutes about the cuisine of your chosen country. Whip up Trip Advisor and get a sense of some of the culinary highlights people are enjoying in the country. Get in the mood and then off you go.

If you did this once every two weeks all winter long, you might still live in Destin but your tongue has got more air miles than the bosses' ex wife. Then, let your tongue do the talkin as the true world traveler of your body.

Specialty Food Store
Specialty Food Store | Source

Shop in Ethnic Stores

But if restaurants are not your thing, you still can be a world traveler in your own city. Check out ethnic stores, special gastronomic stores, or ethnic aisles in the grocery you shop at.

I bet you there's one selling Italian food or a Vietnamese grocery shop in your area. If not, you can always order online. I ordered some Spanish food from an online retailer in the United States called La Tienda and sent these as Christmas gifts to people. they had fun sampling some of the sweets, cheese and jamon.

When you visit these specialty food stores, sample some of the dishes unfamiliar to you. You will be surprised at how much you learn of other cultures when you do so. Taste the intercultural nuances in particular cultures. I always enjoy tapas and mezzeh and find out how these two came to be so much alike and yet so uniquely different.

Use some exotic spices

Try out some exotic spices you have not yet used in your kitchen. See what it does to some of your everyday dishes. We just got some paprika and saffron from Turkey but even there, the merchants claim that the best saffron comes from Iran. Persian cooking at its best. so if you find an Iranian restaurant around, go in and taste some of the best in Persian food.

Exotic spices of the world - Delight your palette with a few

Spices of Korea
Spices of Korea | Source

Cuisine and Culture - A Meaningful Relationship

Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People
Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People

Read this book and let your imagination go so you can let the food you are tasting tell you of the culture in the place it came from. You will be surprised.

This book shows how events in history have influenced the different culinary traditions in the world. Most of the cuisines now are rightly really fusion except for some of the ethnic food that are still made from local ingredients in traditional cooking pots and following the same age old recipes.

Food has changed and this book shows how events in history brought about the similarity of tastes we now have all over the world.


Some Specialty Food from other Countries to Try Out

Just to help you, here are really good regional dishes to go for so you get a real smell and taste and feel for the country. Please break down and have a bottle of the national wine along with the meal. It's all part of the package.

And for heaven's sake, don't go all pinched lipped when the dessert menu comes around. Some of these are really distinctive from the countries you visit and they're part of the world traveler package. And if you show an interest in what you're eating, you will be amazed at who might pop out in the kitchen for a chat.

New Dish of Octopus on the Side
New Dish of Octopus on the Side | Source

1. Artisanal Cheese Made in French Villages

For me, the cheeses of France have no equal in the culinary world. The variety give you so many to choose from, mostly the best you have ever eaten. If you have a chance, go for the local markets in French villages and sample their best artisanal cheeses.

You can also get a few of these in some specialty stores in your city. So, don't despair and head to these places. Some of the French hotels may have a small store where they sell some of these cheeses, foie gras, and baguettes.

More on Cheeses - Try a different one each week

Cheese Store
Cheese Store | Source

2. Spanish Jamon and Chorizo with Olives

Who wouldn't enjoy chorizo or olives marinated as only the Spaniards know how, little meat balls and Iberico ham?

You can start your Spanish experience with a sip of one of the best Tio Pepes or a Rioja.

Spanish Food

Jamon and Rioja
Jamon and Rioja | Source

3. Parmigiano in Fresh Italian Pasta

With Parmigiano in fresh Italian pasta, Parma ham is so distinctively the best especially when sliced paper thin that you can read the newspaper through it will blow you to an explosion of flavours that only only the people of Parma can explain.

4. Soba Noodles and Tempura that Melts in your Mouth

Made from really fresh ingredients so typical of the Japanese and the best Japanese sushi rice, these tiny delights. For tempura, this is often my measure of a good Japanese chef when they can make a very good tempura it melts in your mouth.

5. Indian dishes

Indian spices are not hard to find as there are many Indian stores all over the world that carry them. Many standard groceries also stock them so learning how to cook Indian food is not a big challenge.

North Indian Thali Meal

6. Turk Ikmegi and beautifully spiced kebobs

Not Donaire definitely. Eat this with Turkish bread, Turk Ikmegi, and your mouth will water at the kebob spices. Try the mezzeh, too. Often, we just choose the mezzeh they have in the menu and we can't anymore eat after tasting all these.

Eat these in the heady atmosphere of Turkish coffee and you'll transport yourself to the ancient palaces smelling of myrrh and frankincense.

Turkish Dessert - Kunefe

Kunefe | Source

7. Thai Tom Yum

Am coughing or choking perhaps from the hot spicy soup made from tamarind base. After a cough or two, you get into this soup and just delight in its exotic flavour. Just so exotic with its blend of lemon grass, galanga leaves and other spices. I love this with shrimp that makes me taste a bit of the ocean.

How to Prepare Tom Yam and other Thai Dishes - From the best Thai cooks

So, what is the top world cuisine for you? - Vote for your favourite


Which is your top world cuisine?

See results

Which of the three great cuisines has made the best contribution to our menu today?

See results

French Cuisine

In 2010, French cuisine was included in the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage, a recognition of its value to the world's culinary wealth. And guess what's the other one that got such distinction? Mexican Cuisine.

It is said, however, that there are only 3 great cuisines in the world and all the rest are just derivatives of these three. Of these 3, which do you think has contributed the most to the human menu?

Traveling the World through Food

There are so many other ways of traveling the world without leaving your city but there is nothing like food to attract many of us to sample something of a particular culture. There is also nothing like food to really make us know a culture. Food easily binds us no matter how different we are.

So, start your world travel by sampling some of these dishes from other countries.

© 2013 Mary Norton

Those of you who have tried thee dishes, what are your thoughts on the best world cuisine?

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Happy to see you again getting active here. Thanks for the visit.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 2 months ago from Massachusetts

      I love the "be a world traveler in your own city" approach. I grew up in New York City (Manhattan) and learned to love many countries' and regions' cuisines at an early age. It's also fun to read a travel guide book on your city or geographic area and take a "staycation" to experience it through a tourist's eyes (and palate).

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks Li-Jen. We love to try something new each time we go out.

    • Li-Jen Hew profile image

      Li-Jen Hew 2 months ago

      Thanks for sharing! Your article teaches us to appreciate our city. Not only have u been to many countries, you also know the food well! I like the heading "try a different one each week". :)

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 3 months ago

      Thank you. This is a great idea.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes and from your posts Peggy, you're one person who does this. That you for visiting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 months ago from Houston, Texas

      We are fortunate here in Houston to have so many world cuisines represented. Just last week my husband and I ate at a restaurant with Korean influences. The Dak-Galbi was delicious and their Bulgogi still has me thinking of a return visit. Prior to going there I had never tasted either one of those dishes. It is definitely fun trying and learning about new things.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 17 months ago from The Caribbean

      I love the spirit of this article and intend to put your suggestions into practice. Then I would be able to vote on my favorite cuisine, which I cannot do now because I have not tried enough foreign foods. Excellent read!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 2 years ago from New York

      If I ever get the chance to try Cambodian I have a feeling I will love it!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Cambodian is sort of a fusion between Vietnamese and Thai although unique on its own.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 2 years ago from New York

      I have never had Cambodian, but love the Vietnamese I have tried!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      For me, it is seafood and Italian...also Cambodian and Vietnamese.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 2 years ago from New York

      Seafood is my favorite too. Next is authentic Chinese (not western) and then Mexican. Of course, Italian is an old standby that almost everybody in the US makes at home.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Seafood is not everyone's favourite. It takes some courage to eat some of the weird looking ones.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 3 years ago

      A lot of cool ideas on how to get some culture in your mouth.

      I need to try more cheeses for sure.

      Chinese and Korean grocery stores are like going to a different country. You will smell things you never smelled and see some vegetables you've never seen.

      I am not a seafood person so the emphasis on fresh seafood can be challenging.

      Voted up.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes, that would be great. Malaysian food is really good.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      I should try ypur tips recommending our malaysia food tour

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We now have many international options where we live and it is a bonus really to try out new things. Thanks Au Fait.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      I love to try new things so long as they don't include the sweet meats and their neighbors. Mexican is prevalent here and there's a lot of various Asian restaurants too. I happen to like Greek and there's only 1 of those in this town. No Greeks work there. :(

      A lovely article. It's good for people to try new things, food, adventures, etc.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Love this quote of one of my favourite authors.

    • David Paul Wagner profile image

      David Paul Wagner 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      An enjoyable hub! Your hub title, "Be a World Traveler in Your Own City", reminds me of the following quote: “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land” (G. K. Chesterton, "The Riddle of the Ivy").

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      I found a wonderful Abyssinia restaurant serving authenic Ethiopian cuisine just a few blocks from my home. One of my favorite dishes is "Tebsy" ( Pan roasted strips of of beef, simmered ith onio, butter, and spices. Absolutely delicious with the berbere sauce the adds an infusion of flavors that ignites the taste buds!

    • Spirality profile image

      Spirality 5 years ago

      Spanish and Italian cuisine are my favorites. I love your lens. It made me hungry!

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 5 years ago

      I love trying differerent cuisines and it's a great idea that you can travel without leaving your city, just by trying out different cuisines. Blessed.

    • KateAdamsUSA profile image

      KateAdamsUSA 5 years ago

      you are turning me into a foodie with this lens. love the variety, especially the dim sum and the tom yum. seeing the world really does open up your mind. tasting it in your own backyard is the next best thing!

    • butternyk profile image

      butternyk 5 years ago

      Great lens mate

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @sukkran trichy: Lucky you. My Mom cooked well but hardly so it was always a treat during special occasions.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @anonymous: I do too but thee are some I won't even look at.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @Sara Krentz: We do like trying out new cuisine but we enjoy more eating at home.

    • Sara Krentz profile image

      Sara Krentz 5 years ago from USA

      I love eating different types of foods, and I like trying to prepare my favorite dishes at home. Bookmarking your lens for the tutorials : )

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I like trying out different cuisines. I know I have a lot more to try. I enjoyed your lens.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @anonymous: Not to worry. We all make those errors. Thank you for the compliment and please do try the French cheeses.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Also FB liked. My eye just traveled to another typo....that would be talkin not talin, it seems my typos never end!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Deliciousness served here for sure and there's so much I haven't tried. I love your idea of letting our tongues do the talin as a world traveler without leaving our own city and I know there are plenty of world cuisines I could try in my travels around Fargo. Right now I want to try some of that French cheese you recommend. Very creatively and deliciously done!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @greenmind: Thanks for liking my style.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @EdTecher: We never stop searching for the best restaurants in our area. It is fun.

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 5 years ago from USA

      I love French, Chinese, Japanese and Italian. You've inspired me to seek out new ones in our town.

    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind 5 years ago from USA

      wow -- ambitious lens! I really like your style here. Brilliant work.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @Glenda Motsavage: Am doing that here in Hanoi, trying out food I have never even seen before.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @CherylsArt: This is a wonderful experience. I should have thought of this. Am glad you added this here.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @crstnblue: Thank you so much. Some of my favourite cuisines really.

    • profile image

      crstnblue 5 years ago

      Very nice lens with wonderful photos and soooooooooo tempting recipes! : )

      Thumbs up for your great job done!


    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 5 years ago from West Virginia

      My husband and I took a cooking class once that had the class prepare a cultural meal from a new country each week. Each week there were guest chefs to guide us in the preparation of the meal. It was one of our favorite classes.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image

      Glenda Motsavage 5 years ago from The Sunshine State

      Love to eat my way around the world - even if it is in my own backyard! Orlando has a great Thai Restaurant with the BEST Tom Yum! I'm so hungry right now! Dim Sum for breakfast?...never thought about that! Thanks so much for sharing! (I resolve to eat more in 2013!)


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