Saturday, June 25, 2011

Food For Thought

When it comes to choosing a place to eat on your trip, I have one piece of advice: Go Local, or Go Home.

Food is an integral part of what makes every culture unique.  Even within the same country, different locations have their own regional cuisine.  Right here in the U.S. we've got Southern soul food, New England seafood, plenty of corn and beef in the Midwest, and various California style dishes that replace all the fatty stuff with chicken and avocados - not to mention all of the different neighborhood foods.  One of my favorite things about Chicago, is the grub.  There's Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy, Mexican places in Pilsen with handmade tortillas, more pizza than you could ever eat, and countless hot dog vendors (don't ask for ketchup).

You always remember the things you see, and hear, in new places.  Don't sell your trip short by neglecting the experience of tasting and smelling new things.  Our senses of smell and taste create strong memories.  Think of your most recent trip, and no doubt, one of the meals you ate will come to mind.  Sampling the local food is an incredible way to get a deeper connection to the place you visit.

Cooking for yourself?  Hit the farmers' market for fresh cooking supplies while giving a boost to the local economy.  It also gives you the opportunity to talk to vendors about the region, and get some travel advice not found in the brochure.  Bonus experience points if you make an attempt at the local lingo.

There is one exception to the "Go Local, or Go Home" rule, though: homesickness.  If you've been gone for a while, there's nothing like a bite of a familiar dish that takes you back home.  For me, that's a hot pizza with a few cold beers.  What's yours?

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