This’s a guest post by my friend Jodi Ettenberg, foodie extraordinaire and writer of The Food Traveler’s Handbook. Like me, she loves food. The blog of her, Legal Nomads focuses on telling stories through food. She’s one of my personal favorite travel bloggers and in this guest post, she shares several of her tricks and tips that will help you make the most out of the food of yours and the travels of yours!

The beauty of traveling the world is you are able to home in on the items you’re most curious about or perhaps the themes that bring you joy. For many individuals, what this means is adventure or perhaps climbing or volunteering as many mountains as you can.

For me, it means eating my way all over the world and learning about food.

I never started out this way. I planned the travels of mine to last one year, expecting to go back to my lawyering job in York that is New in 2009.

 After saving up almost as I could, I started Legal Nomads to document whatever adventures came the way of mine. I never thought that I will be still writing years later, and certainly didn’t count on to have written a book about food.

Somewhere between China and Mongolia, I figured out that what I ate would become much more of a focus for the travels of mine.

Growing up, food was not a huge part of the life of mine, but as time went on and I began to travel, it was clear that my destination choices and daily schedules were planned around the taste buds of mine. Additionally, I needed to go to ensure that I would find out about what folks ate and why. It was not just about the enjoyment of a meal or perhaps 2 but went a lot deeper.

Just how was it that these tastes and traditions that fascinated me came together to create the historical backdrop for countries I was just starting to explore? Food was a never ending source of wonder (and delicious meals).

A simmering bowl of chicken gizzards in Istanbul, Turkey

Chicken gizzards in Istanbul, Turkey

But for people who wish to do what I do, you will find some legitimate concerns. How can you eat properly, without getting sick? What do you have to pack before you go that helps you on your tasty travels? And what do you have to know to build out an itinerary based around food?

I just wrote a book, The Food Traveler’s Handbook, answering these questions and more, and Matt asked me to post the thoughts of mine here about how I eat the world.

Below are my 5 tried-and-true tips and tricks for discovering the hidden secrets of food:

  1. Start with the basics

Among my personal favorite places to start is actually Wikipedia, specifically the page of its on national dishes. Jumping from that landing page through to the ingredients named in it, or perhaps a historical footnote that fascinates you, means that you are able to have a journey though the anthropology of a country’s food before you actually set off.

For instance, many travelers don’t realize that ketchup’s origins lie a huge number of miles away from America, in Fujian, China.

By learning about that story before you set off to a trip to China, you’re afforded a whole other lens through which you are able to view the adventures of yours. A delicious lens at that!

eating food that is great while traveling, Pork floss corn muffins in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Pork floss corn muffins in Chiang Mai, Thailand

  1. Learn about social norms and the etiquette

Part of the fun in learning about food is also attempting to understand and/or mimic the cultural and food habits of the countries you visit. I have found asking locals about the traditions of theirs or perhaps their table habits is a great conversation starter.

For instance, in much of Asia, staking your chopsticks vertically in rice is actually frowned upon, since it’s a Buddhist rite for the dead to burn incense in a bowl of rice at the altar.

And asking about this subject at a dinner in Bangkok turned into a lengthy discussion about the numerous other food quirks in the respective places of ours. Pre-trip, a great starting point for learning is actually Etiquette Scholar’s international dining etiquette section, divided into regions.

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  1. Packing tips.

Whether you travel with or perhaps with no food, a good first aid/medical kit is actually important – as are my recommended packing essentials like safety, doorstop, and a headlamp whistle. For my first aid kit’s full contents, see the resources page of mine.

But what about packing for the food traveler? Specifics include the following:

I never leave home with no portable chopsticks, great where food is actually new but the street stall’s dishes may not be as clean as you would like. An option is actually bringing baby wipes with you to wipe down the utensils. That is not to say I wander around disinfecting all of the cutlery, either! But for those street stalls with a quick turnover but less exciting washing methods, it is an advantage to take that extra step.

I also carry a Point It Dictionary, easy to use when the language barrier gets in the way. You are able to point at the animal, condiment, or perhaps another item in the book and be guaranteed a minimum of communication. For all those with mobile data, an answer is using Google Translate. You are able to download language packs which can help with translation.

eating and traveling steamed pork and mushroom spring rolls topped with fried garlic in Muang Ngoi, Laos

Steamed pork and mushroom spring rolls topped with fried garlic in Muang Ngoi, Laos four. Do not ignore breakfast options!

Be it nasi lemak in Indonesia or perhaps mohinga soups in Myanmar, breakfast is usually an ideal time for you to explore your destination’s culinary offerings.

 Another option, particularly in South America and southeast Asia, is actually to find the fresh food markets at dawn – they’ll almost always have food stalls attached, where shoppers stocking up on ingredients stop for a meal.

Turnover is quick, the food is new, and it’s almost always inexpensive.

  1. Food safety

Street stalls and markets are actually the simplest way to try food and not break the bank, but their safety is actually a concern for a great deal of folks. To be honest, I have been sicker from restaurants a lot more often than from street stalls on the travels of mine. The beauty of frequenting streetside restaurants is actually they’re accessible and open ; you are able to see exactly how the food is actually treated and cooked, and just how thoroughly clean the stall is actually – or perhaps is not.

Harira soup in Marrakesh, Morocco while traveling

Harira soup in Marrakesh, Morocco

Some other Tips

I aim for stalls where the person cooking is not also handling the money, and in case they’re, then they’re handling the money with gloves on, taking them off to cook the food.

I also take a good look at the way the town or perhaps country eats; if a great meal for locals is actually at lunchtime, that would be the choice of mine for experimenting with exciting dishes or new meats, when the food is actually freshest.

For all those with food allergies or perhaps restrictions such as staying away from dairy or meat, Select Wisely has allergy and/or food cards that you are able to print out and take with you in the local language. Very useful for a celiac like me that has to stay away from rye, barley, wheat, and gluten!

These’re but a few ideas that will help guide you toward safe, delicious, and affordable eats on the travels of yours. While food was not a priority when I began traveling, I have found it an excellent addition to what was already a fulfilling experience.

By focusing on food, I have added some fascinating stories, found great new friendships, and – of course – eaten some delicious meals.

Bon appetit!

Jodi Ettenberg has been eating the way of her around the world since April 2008. She’s the writer of the recently published Food Traveler’s Handbook. She’s also the founder of Legal Nomads, which chronicles worldwide travel and food adventures, and she’s a contributing editor for Longreads. She gets the shakes when she goes too long without eating sticky rice.