After a bit of a hiatus, we’re so happy to bring back another Food for Thought interview! Throughout this series, we chat with fellow travelers to hear their perspectives on the intersection of travel, food and culture. Through eating local cuisine, we gain insight into the places we visit. Traditional dishes tell us something about a place’s history. Modern food trends show how places are changing. Getting food tips from local residents is a great way to make new friends. Food connects us, even when a common language is a challenge. We really enjoyed getting to know Andrzej and Joele through their answers to the Food for Thought questions. Over on their blog, we really got a kick out of Andrzej’s “picky eater” post, which reminded me so much of Donny when we first met…right down to their mutual disgust about raw tomatoes. C’mon guys! We hope you enjoy reading their interview as much as we did.
Wanderlust Storytellers is a family travel blog …. a little dream we have always had. To be able to write about our travel stories and to share our experiences with others is the best job we have ever had!
We travel and we venture out to see not only touristic destinations, but also the hidden gems. We simply crave to immerse ourselves in the real culture of the place, learn and connect as much as we can with the people and of course to taste all the yummy cuisine of those countries! And there are so many to taste still! Well, that only gives us a purpose to see and taste more! Are you with us? YES!!
Food for Thought
The underlying idea of the “Food for Thought” series is that to truly experience a culture you must taste it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
As soon as you said: “to truly experience a culture you must taste it!” it is like I had a déjà vu. That is exactly how I think!
Food is the key to the heart and soul of the culture, and to be able to taste the delicacies that have been perfected by generations before, is an unbelievable experience!
Do I agree? YES, I DO!
What food do you identify with “home?” Does it reflect something about your own culture or upbringing? Do you crave it while you’re away?
Well, I have been living in Australia for the past 20 years, which is 2 years longer than I have lived in my home country, Poland. There is no comparison to the memories of flavours and tastes from my birth country to any other place. These are the dishes that Mum and Grandma have fed us since we were born.
I crave the polish food immensely and every time I have an opportunity I do not hesitate to try someone else’s version of the real dishes. There are so many dishes I can’t list them all here!
I’ll give you three:
- Polish Smoked Pork and Sausage – The flavours and texture of the meat is to die for! If it is a cold smoked or hot smoked meat on a fresh bun or if it is a wood-fire grilled pork sausage on a fresh slice of polish rye bread; you will be in heaven my friend!
- Blood Pudding – My grandma’s version; crispy fried on the frypan with small chunks of liver. YUM! All I can say is “you must eat more!” Haha… That is the Polish way. If there is food on the table, and there always is food on the table, then you are not going anywhere!
- Pork Schnitzel and Smashed Potatoes – well, this one is more popular across Europe and even further, but… Polish-way pork needs to be well tenderized and lightly seasoned with Salt and Pepper, dipped repeatedly in egg-wash and plain flour and fried till golden. Now, place two of those next to a generous amount of smashed potatoes sprinkled with dill and you just do not need anything else!
Hahaha… Talk about thoughts taking you home! I can write you a whole recipe book if your next question asks for it! We would be here a while!
How has travel affected the way you think about food?
Well, I have actually written a post about how challenging the tasting of new food is for me. I have this thing called ‘Fear of food’, haha… No joke! It’s food neophobia.
Travel and of course my beautiful wife have helped me to face my fears and in 95% of cases I try everything that I have at my table. Now this is something that I used to never do. Mr Meat and meat and potatoes, that used to be my name. Haha…
Do you have a technique to try and understand local cuisine? (ie: Attending cooking classes or food tours? Hunting the best street food?)
I think that all of the examples mentioned are excellent ways of trying the local cuisine! We have attended cooking classes as well, both in Vietnam and in Indonesia, and I have got to say that I think we did pretty good! We did learn a lot about spices and the preparation methods.
Although we definitely recommend cooking classes as a great way to broaden your culinary skills, our favourite way of exploring the flavours of the countries is just by eating the food!
We tend to have a taste of dishes across the board. It is always fun to dine in fancy restaurants, local markets or small food stalls, as well as on the street. This way we can get a broader understanding of the flavours and we can judge for ourselves what is yummier and which dishes to recommend for our readers.
Tell us about a memorable meal that was so special it is forever ingrained in your memory. Where was it and what set it apart? What was served, and who shared it with you?
Well, hands down the one extraordinary food memory was in Italy! Positano on the Amalfi Coast to be exact! There is this gorgeous restaurant right on the main beach and my wife and I absolutely loved the food there!
Have you ever tried fresh mozzarella grilled on lemon leaf? If the answer is YES, then you know exactly why! This is a sensory overload to your taste buds and to your brain. I swear once you try this simple yet extraordinary dish; you will put it right to the top of your culinary experiences. YUM, YUM and YUM!
What food have you tried in your travels that some might find shocking or surprising? Would you eat it again?
I have tried quite a lot, but I think my wife beats me in this area! Jolene, my gorgeous life partner and fellow wanderluster is crazy! Haha… Whilst on her China trip, she ate bees! Yup, bees… Flower pollinating, delicious honey-making, tiny little stripy creatures – bees. Haha… Well, in China you will find truly interesting and sometimes odd things to eat and you have to try things that you would normally ninja roll-out from.
Jolene said: “Fried bees are crunchy and a little bit nutty in flavour. I wouldn’t say that they are super yummy, but I had to try it!”
Needless to say, in situations like that I stand manly in front of the table and with one swift move, ninja roll-out of there! Haha…
And just for fun, if you had to choose one country’s cuisine to eat for the rest of your life what would it be?
Hmm, that is actually a huge toss-up between Italian cuisine and Vietnamese for sure. Hmm, ok… (several minutes later)
Vietnamese! Why? – We travelled all the way from the North to the South of Vietnam and we did not have one single meal that was unsatisfactory. All was delicious, amazing and unforgettable.
The depth of flavours in all the dishes is insanely fantastic. You could literally eat nothing else then Vietnamese food for the rest of your life and still discover new flavours within the same bowl of soup.
Take Pho Ga for example! One evening in Hoi An, we had an amazing dinner. We staffed ourselves to the brim with excellent food, as we knew that in two hours we needed to catch a plane from Danang to Ho Chi Minh. Well, at the airport 30 minutes after we finished dinner, we were sitting and eating a massive bowl of Pho Ga each. Yup! This soup is so good, that you will eat it, even if you have no more space in your stomach! Guarantee it!