Traveling to new countries is one of the most amazing, eye-opening hobbies you can have in life. You get to experience new sights and cultures, meet people that speak a completely different language and try unique and exotic foods. But, the latter may prove to be more troublesome than exciting if you’re finicky about your food. Many Americans have anxiety about unknown cuisine in other countries, but that shouldn’t keep anyone from experiencing the world. If the idea of eating in other regions gives you a panic attack, read on for our tips and tricks for picky eaters.
Do some research
Spend some time researching the local dishes at your destination before you leave. Look up the menus of nearby restaurants and search the internet for regional recipes so you can get a feel for what you’ll encounter when you land. If you’re brave, try making a few of the dishes that appeal to you at home first to test your comfort level. And, just in case you hate everything, it couldn’t hurt to research any American chains (like McDonald’s or Starbucks) that may be nearby.
Hit up local markets
Farmer and street markets may seem intimidating, especially to those who are wary about food, but they are essentially a crash-course in the flavors of your destination. These markets are feasts for the senses and will almost certainly help you become acclimated to the standard recipes as well as all of the spices and herbs used locally. While the onslaught of new foods may seem overwhelming to sensitive eaters, the upside is that you increase your chances of finding at least one thing you’ll like – plus you can frequently sample new flavors free of charge. No matter what you want to eat, it’ll be easy to find food here.
Bring staples from home
Don’t feel ashamed to bring your own grub! Trust us, you won’t be missing out on any brownie points if you happen to just not like a foreign country’s food. If you know you’re not going to like much, pack some (lightweight) snacks or easy meals and enjoy your time sight-seeing instead of stressing about hunger. There’s also something magical about spending a whole day exploring a new area and then biting into familiar comfort food from home.
Try new things
You’re on vacation and traveling the world; what better time to be brave and step outside of your comfort zone? Street foods are a great way to understand the culture you’re in. No one is saying you have to put pig’s liver or chicken feet in your mouth, but trying a dish that you know is composed of relatively harmless ingredients should be considered. It is part of the cultural experience to at least try the local foods when traveling, after all.
Shop at grocery stores
If you’re terrified of farmer’s markets and ordering off of foreign menus, you’ll probably feel comfortable cooking for yourself. You can head to a local grocery store and find most of your basic ingredients from home, like pasta and white bread; spaghetti or a peanut butter & jelly sandwich can be enjoyed in just about every corner of the world.