We asked people around the office to tell us about their most memorable food experience while abroad. We got a variety of answers and learned that food can help you to assimilate and explore a new culture, or comfort you when you are homesick.
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To deny a Californian a burrito is to deny them a basic staple of their diet. My first experience with Mexican food in Budapest was a limp quesadilla from a mall food court, a completely cheese-less tortilla topped with wilted iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges, some starchy corn kernels and a squidgy blob of tart ranch dressing. I felt a bit lost over the next few months. There was no reliable standard to fall back on when zsemle, trappista and radish sandwiches got dull. Vegetarianism was seen as a medical problem in the city (No meat? Are you feeling sick?), leaving me to miss what had always been a foolproof option.
Wandering down Teréz körút in a hungry, existential haze, I thought the cheery maracas-and-sombrero window dressing was just a cultural fluke, an accidental décor choice. But then the carefree accents of my California countrymen drifted across my ear from the outdoor patio, some tinfoil glinted in the sun, and I came to an abrupt realization which I blurted out loud:
“Holy shit! Burritos!”
I stepped cautiously to the line, taking in the phonetic spellings of the standard taqueria items. Ta-ki-tosz, ke-sze-dijja, it couldn’t really exist. My Europhilic affect of epicurean restraint fell by the wayside. I greedily jammed my finger against the sneeze guard, pointing along the line of fourth pans overflowing with ingredients. Black beans? Yes. Pinto too? Why the hell not. Guacamole extra? Make it double. Everything I could see was stuffed in a tortilla stretched to the limit of its glutinous tensile strength. Margarita in hand, I walked up to the upstairs alcove where I sat face to face with a large mural: a cherub, surrounded by a thicket of roses, was holding a massive taco aloft. As I noticed the text above it, the full religious experience of this discovery became summed up in a single quote:
Gracias a dios por creaer el taco.
Gracias a dios indeed, .
Don’t be fooled. That last look of mine is amazement.
One of my best food experiences while traveling was in Peru. While I did not opt for qui (guinea pig), I did want to try something different on my travel experience by eating alpaca. I’ll admit I had my reservations, but it turned out to be one of the best things I ate on the entire trip. It was much like a very lean steak. It was also fairly gamey. It was served with fried potatoes and vegetables in a blend of spices. The meat itself was so tender and flavorful that no sauce or dressing was 外汇平台 necessary. I ate it at an Italian restaurant with my girlfriend while in Cuzco. That city loves tourism, so there is a style of restaurant for everyone. Yet no matter what style you eat, there is always a Peruvian twist on it. This is something I loved. I say it is one of my best experiences because it reaffirms my belief that reaching out of your comfort zone once in a while is important and can be fun. Otherwise, why travel?
Photo Courtesy of Laura Davy
As perhaps the classiest lady in the office (or at least the only one that will make that assertion), I would be remiss to not mention one of my favorite pastimes: afternoon tea. Now, I may not always have afternoon tea since I tend to drink this glorious caffeinated beverage in the morning or evening, but when I was visiting London I knew I couldn’t miss this opportunity.
When I arrived I was too busy admiring the sites and attempting to master a cockney accent to realize that although I had been drinking tea every day, I had yet to participate in a proper afternoon tea. Once I made that realization I knew I had to solve that problem immediately. Despite being at the that afternoon I knew it was tea time, so I dragged one willing and one not-so-willing friend with me the and quickly ordered a pot of Earl Grey tea and scones lathered in clotted cream. The sweetness of the scone perfectly complemented the slight bitterness of the tea, making it a delicious snack.
But as I sipped my tea and looked around, I realized that although the food was great, what was even better was the setting. We were sitting near the edge of a rooftop restaurant that was still under museum’s Great Court glass roof, almost as if we were in a green house. I looked down and watched tourists and families excitedly walk about, looking forward to seeing priceless pieces of history. Finally I looked across the table to my two friends, who were happily savoring their tea and enjoying each other’s company. It was perfect.
Since that trip I have had better tea and better scones, but I have never had a better afternoon tea. Though I never did master the accent.