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Useful Tips on Overcoming Your Fear of Foreign Cuisine & Learning to Embrace Them

by Alice Porter

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As a traveler, the promise of new cuisines when traveling to different destinations is inevitable. Different countries and cultures have broader taste palettes and are accustomed to various different textures. While some like their food full of spice, others rely on simple yet comforting flavors. That said, if you’re a bit of a fussy eater, you may see as one of the downfalls of exploring various nooks of the world.

Most travelers I know, myself included, found that trying out and learning to cook different cuisines as one of the best perks of travel. However, I do understand that this doesn’ t come naturally to some. If you happen to be amongst those who are reluctant to sample foreign cuisines, I’m here to offer some tips that may help you to embrace it and perhaps, with time, to love it as much as I do!



Start slow 


spanish tapas

A variety of tapas. Image credit: Spaintourist.ru


When it comes to foreign cuisines, it’s important not to overwhelm yourself. For example, imagine you’re on vacation in Spain, and you’re going out for dinner with your friends at a typical Spanish tapas restaurant. You may be a little cautious of the new dishes being served in front of you. If this is the case, why not mix things up by ordering some dishes that you are already familiar with? Along with the ‘unusual’ dishes, you may want to order dishes that contain potatoes, rice, and bread which you can always ‘fall back on’ should you end up not enjoying the other dishes. 

Alternatively, use your starter as the time of night to try something new. Start off small like ordering a new side dish as an accompaniment to your choice of a classic main dish. If you are traveling with friends and would like to sample a more ‘unusual’ types of foods encourage sharing around the table so you all can have a bit of a culinary adventure together. 

Essentially, the more you familiarize yourself with new flavors and textures, the more confident you will feel about trying more new food in the future. Also, if you’re trying a type of exotic meat for the first time, don’t force yourself to eat it as it is; you could order it as part of a dish where it’s covered in your favorite sauce. That way you’re still getting the excitement of trying something new, but it’s smothered in a flavor you know and love.


Know Your Ingredients


Asian night market


It definitely helps to research about a destination in advance and look into the local cuisine. This way, you will have an idea as to what types of dishes you’ll likely to encounter as well as its ingredients. Much of the fear of foreign cuisine is caused by the fact that we simply don’t know what it is and what its made of. So knowing this, why not take the time to read up a bit and educate yourself? This way, you’ll likely to have a much relaxed time on your vacation. 

Also, if you are averse to a particular ingredient, then it may taint a dish for you that you would have otherwise would enjoy. In this case, you can ask the restaurant to omit the ingredient from the dish (and maybe even learn how to request for it in the local language). 

Cooking for yourself is also a great way to try new foods as you are able to know about all the ingredients that are included in the dish. This also works for when you’re on holiday and staying at an apartment as opposed to a hotel as eating out every night can be expensive after a while. So, head over to the local supermarket or farmer’s market and grab the core ingredients to that dish you saw on the menu and have a go at making it yourself. 


What’s the Worst That Could Happen?


sharing plate of biryani rice


Going to a foreign country and sampling the local cuisine can be a nightmare to those who aren’t keen on trying new foods. However, it’s good practice to ask yourself: ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’. The important thing is to answer the question honestly.

More often than not, the worst that can happen is that you don’t like it. So before you start turning down the opportunity to try delicious authentic dishes, remember that if you don’t like something, then you never have to eat it again!

The next time you’re on a long plane journey with your head up against them and you’re dwelling on the ‘unusual’ foods that you inevitably will encounter,  summon up some courage and be more adventurous. After all, you really don’t know all the flavors that you’re missing out on until you try it!


Want more tips from Alice? Be sure to check out her posts on Trtl!

Interested in tasting and learning how to cook a delicious variety of cuisines the world has to offer? Why not reward yourself with a cooking holiday?

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