Ditch the Cubicle

Discovering A Country Through Its Food During Your Career Break

Written By: jeff

Posted On: September 3rd, 2011

career break travel in India, food in India

What entices you while traveling? Copyright CareerBreakSecrets.com

Food. Food. FOOD!!!! It’s an integral part of the travel experience. Whether you go for the street food stalls or a fine dining experience, you will leave a country remembering what you ate. Or in some cases, the food may not have impressed you, which is also a lasting memory. When I talk about my travels with friends, everyone wants to know what the food was like.

Food for me is always a window, dare I say, a taste of into the local culture: What people eat, the spices, how they eat it. There are a lot of ways to experience the country through its food. Here are a few.

Tips for Discovering a Country Through Its Food During Your Career Break Travel

  • Ask the locals. I have a few favorites types of locals I like to ask: a good taxi driver, the staff at the hotel or hostel or the salesman at the market after you’ve bought that trinket, and your tour leader. Sure they might send you to their buddy down the road, but they are around enough to know what travelers tend to like.
  • Take a tour of the local markets. So many cities and towns have fresh markets where you can go and pick out the fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, etc for yourself. The one in Santiago, Chile, ¨La Vega¨ even has a set of restaurants next door where everything is made from that market. Spend part of a day to see what’s available.
  • Find a busy stall when you are hungry for street food. Street food is always traveler favorite whether you’re in New York, Paris or New Delhi. If you’re not sure which cart or stall to pick, go with a busy one. It means they are turning over their product and there’s a need to keep everything fresh to keep up with demand.
  • Try everything once, just once. Part of traveling is discovering things that are new to you. I remember on a trip to Paris, it became a joke to order off the menu  and see what showed up. Often what we expected was not what was delivered. But, it was usually very tasty!
  • Stick to sealed bottled water. A lot more places have safe drinking water than what you’d expect. But, if you are in a place where you can’t or are unsure, stick to bottled water. And be sure it’s sealed: If you don’t hear the crack send it back!  It’s not worth the risk to your system.

Now, my B-Side Food and Eating Tips for Your Career Break Travel

  • Ask the waiter or staff at the restaurant what the specialty of the house is. These guys know what sells and what people like.
  • Find a local cooking class. Whether it’s a partial day or full day class, you can get a lot of of the time you spend with a local chef. Make sure you will get your hands dirty and find out if a tour of the local market to help pick out the ingredients can be arranged.
  • Get out of the hostel kitchen. Budget concerns usually keep people cooking for themselves. But, be sure to explore. There’s usually something budget-friendly and tasty in the area.
  • Pair up at the hostel kitchen. Rather than just cooking for yourself, get together with some of your new travel friends and make a potluck dinner. Just make sure that someone attempts something local when possible.
  • Accept invitations to people’s homes. In South America and Turkey, I received several invitations to dine at people’s homes. As much as possible, I try to accept these invitations. It’s a great way to get a home-cooked meal and have a real connection while you’re there.
  • Go beyond the “known” local dish. If I say, “Argentina”, you probably will think steak. But, did you know that the pasta and ice cream are out of this world? No doubt you should have the stereotypical dish the country is known for. But, there is always more just below the surface.

Check out the other topics covered in the Gap Adventures Career Break Video Series 

  1. Introduction
  2. Packing Tips for a Career Break
  3. Money Tips for Your Career Break
  4. Security 101 While Traveling
  5. Discovering A Country Through Its Food
  6. How to Get Around Like a Local While Traveling
  7. Why Consider a Small Group Tour Operator on Your Career Break
  8. Cooking Class in India: Learn Something New on Your Career Break
  9. Solo Travel: How to Travel Alone Without Feeling Lonely
  10. Getting to Know Our Tour Leader in India

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Disclosure: I am serving as the Gap Adventures media spokesman for career break travel. While this series is part of a broader campaign to raise awareness about career break travel, all opinions, tips and advice are mine.

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