One way people unknowingly and unfairly judge another culture is by the way they react to the local food when traveling. “Food at home tastes better,” they say. “This is too bland for my taste.”
“Too much curry.”
“Too much herbs.”
Everything that touches their palates is judged using the way food tastes at home. I cannot help feeling annoyed when a traveling mate complain about the food just because it doesn’t meet their standard of taste. They should have stayed home and eat all they want.
For me, trying new food is one of the pleasures of traveling. Whenever possible, I try not to eat at global chains when traveling. I stay away from Starbucks, although I am quite a regular customer at home, and try local coffee shops. Failing to try at least one new food is for me taking away the value of my travel.
I spent nearly two weeks traveling with a group to some Middle East countries. At first I was very happy because the organizer took us to local restaurants. But in later destinations, we ate at three Chinese restaurants, one Korean, and two cafes. Yes, that was because some of the group members complained that they could not enjoy local food.
To be fair, there are some exotic food that I could not eat. For example, when I was in Taiwan, the locals use sesame oil to cook almost everything and it tasted funny for me. I ended up eating only toasted bread from the breakfast buffet. The Pakistani rice dish that I had in Mumbai was also a bad choice for me. And I admit I am not as open to extreme food as Andrew Zimmer. But that didn’t make me looking for the nearest McDonald’s as soon as dinner time was approaching.
For me, willingness to try and embrace local food is one measure of someone’s open-mindedness. Are they open to new ideas as much as they are open to try different food? Are they as quick to judge the whole idea as useless as much as they are to loathe the entire food culture just because of one bad eating experience? Are they as prone to use double standard as they are to consider one local food is bad because it is not cooked the way food is made at home?
What do you think?