Travel Blogger: Try the Local Cuisine
Updated: Mar 19, 2020
What does eating local have to do with travel? It’s one of the best parts.
I grew up in the Midwest. I know beef, pork, and chicken. Salad meant iceberg lettuce when I was a kid. We had potatoes every night accompanied by corn, peas, or green beans. Sometimes, things got exciting with beets or sauerkraut, but that wasn’t too often. I remember eating Brussels sprouts at a friend’s house in high school. I was grateful we didn’t eat those at home.
Just like eating at a friend’s house, travel opens the door to new taste adventures.
Chain restaurants are fine. There are several I frequent. But I always enjoy trying at least one local restaurant when I travel. If I can, I try the specialty of the city or area.
Let’s start with pizza. In Chicago, I’ve eaten pizza that was at least two inches thick. The crust was buttery, and depending where I went, the sauce was under or on top of the cheese. Mmmm…
In Philadelphia, the pizza was often in a rectangle. The crust was light with bubbles, and the pepperonis were thin with crispy edges. I love a good pepperoni.
New York pizza was also fabulous. Its crust was flexible enough to fold in half like a taco or a sandwich. Don’t squeeze too tight!
Each pizza was incredible on its own merits. Don’t think pizza is just pizza. Dig deeper.
In Boston, we ate at the docks at a restaurant with no name. It had rough wooden tables with benches set in rows. Dock workers and well-dressed couples walked through the door. The food made up for any missing ambience. I had the best halibut and New England clam chowder I’ve ever had in my life.
Since then, I’ve had Manhattan clam chowder. In my opinion, it ranks right up there with Brussels sprouts.
I may have poked a little fun at the Midwest earlier, but one thing Kansas City knows is barbeque. Some folks are going to say the sauce is too sweet, but if Kansas City barbeque is done right, the sauce is just a bonus. Kansas City barbeque should not be fatty. It should not be chewy or gristly. Done right, it’s fork tender with hints of wood smoke, not chemicals from a bottle. After the first bite or two, add some sauce if you want to.
Memphis, the Carolinas, and Texas are known for barbeque too. You should try them all. Each is known for something special. How will you know the differences and your favorite if you don’t try them all?
The first time I learned you should melt cheese on a piece of apple pie was in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was at a local eatery ordering apple pie for dessert when the server asked if I wanted cheese on it. I must have looked confused (I was) because a gentleman the next table over advised me to add the cheese. He said, “An apple tart without the cheese is like a hug without the squeeze.” After that, I had to try it. It wasn’t bad.
The truth is my favorite apple pie is Dutch apple. Funny thing though, I’ve been to the Netherlands and was never offered pie. Do you suppose Dutch apple pie is American just like fortune cookies?
Eating local is fun. Sometimes you get to meet local people. Food can tell you a lot about who settled the area and who lives there now. I’ve eaten at several Mexican-Irish restaurants and one Chinese-Latin restaurant. Local food can also tell you what is grown or raised in the area.
Eat at a chain for convenience, but if you have time in Louisville, try a Hot Brown (pictured above) or a Po’ Boy in Memphis. Even if you’re traveling for business, take the time to eat local. You never know what you’ll learn, and maybe your business contacts will appreciate that you ate “local.”