Travel has always been my passion and if I could afford to travel every single day, I probably would. Travel gives my life meaning and it makes the mundane exciting. It gives me something to look forward to. I can get by through my daily boring life in the office knowing that there is something new, strange and exciting waiting for me in a month two.
So many things have been said about travel but for me travel is life and if there is anything that can help make travel better than it already is, it is trying out all the great food every local place has. For me, there can be nothing better than the harmony of travel and food.
Before I travel to a new place, I make it a point to research not only about the must-see places and those off the beaten tracks, I also make it a point to spend sometime reading about the food, the cuisine and the local hole in the wall places where I should go to for excellent food. There is nothing more delightful than partaking of a bowl of the perfect noodles or savoring the best roasted pork ever! These things are some of life’s greatest joys and I will look forward to them all the time.
Vietnam, for instance, has always been known as one of the culinary capitals of Southeast Asia and it has always been high on the list of must-see places for travellers and I was in anticipation until I finally set foot in Hanoi. Hanoi is a bustling place and the vibrant city is alive in the day as it is at night. It is a delight to mingle with locals, as well as other travelers.
One of the highlights of my trip to Hanoi was discovering that ever delightful sandwich called banh mi and the unforgettable bun cha. The baguette was introduced to Vietnam during the French occupation. The fillings usually found in banh mi are grilled pork, spreadable pork liver pate, fried eggs, head cheese and vegetables such as cilantro, cucumber slices and pickled carrots. It is the perfect symphony of flavors and tastes. So far, it is my favorite sandwich and I cannot wait until I indulge in its goodness again and by this I do not mean the sandwiches served in “authentic” Vietnamese sandwiches but rather those that are sold at the side streets of Hanoi.
The other unforgettable dish I tried in Hanoi, Vietnam is bun cha. Bun cha is a dish of noodle and grilled pork. The dish also comes with herbs and a dipping of fish sauce. Anthony Bourdain, my personal food god, and then US President Barack Obama famously shared bun cha when the latter was in Vietnam and that event only made the delicious dish more popular outside of the country.
I love sampling local dishes and I am not afraid to try local bizarre foods. Cue Andrew Zimmerman. When I was in Cambodia, I made sure to try the fried tarantulas, crickets and other insects. They weren’t the best tasting food but they were interesting. Tried the same thing in Khao San Road in Thailand too and same taste.
I have has many wonderful moments of discovery but not everything is smooth sailing. I have also had my share of food fiascos and one unforgettable experience was when I was in Yogyakarta with my bestfriend. Yogyakarta is such a magnificent place. The Borobudur and Prambanan Temples were otherworldly and being there gave me as sense of peace and calm.
Java is not really known for its excellent food but they I have read that they have some great dishes. So it was with excitement that I waited for my food after an early call time of 4am to watch the sun rise over Borobudur. I was hungry and I was very much looking forward to feeding myself and preparing for the long day ahead. Not only was the food a little too spicy for me, one of the dishes had hair in it. Well suffice it to say that I lost my appetite but that did not stop me from enjoying my lunch and dinner that day.
Food and travel is indeed the perfect marriage. What more can you ask for than a great day combing through ruins or a major metropolis and then filling yourself with the best street food or the best gourmet dishes made by top chefs while laughing at the day’s travel bloopers? Well, only a great company could make such an experience even better than it is.
So, I dare you, the next time you travel, do not be afraid to try local dishes. You will thank me for it. Who knows that culinary discoveries you will find? Who knows what dishes will become your favorites? Who knows what doors will open for you when you put together travel and food?