We believe that to truly experience a culture, you must taste it. Throughout our travels, we continue to make meaningful connections that we never would otherwise. Through our Food for Thought series, we hope to learn more about other travelers’ journeys, and the important role food plays. A new installment will be published each Friday for the duration of the series. This week’s interview is with the folks behind Hungry Escapades. We’ve been following their most recent house-sitting adventure closely, and we always appreciate the straightforward, honest way they present their posts. Be sure to check out the recipes section on their site!
Meet Rob and Kel
Rob and Kel are Hungry Escapades, a British couple who left the humdrum for an exciting journey in search of adventure and food! Their blog is packed full of travel tips, recipes, house sits and inspiration. Currently they are eating their way around Central and South America.
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?
Agreed! For us, travel is all about the food and the people. We rarely think of what sights we are going to see and constantly think about our next meal. Our adventure is all about discovering new tasty treats and that goes hand in hand with meeting new people and absorbing the local culture.
Mealtimes really give you an insight into a countries traditions and values. When I visited France I noticed how much of life there revolved around food. Meals were not served simply for sustenance, they were a real social occasion for family and friends to gather together to have fun, eat fresh delicious food and maybe share a glass or two of wine…
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?
Comfort food! I don’t know whether you know this but it can tend to get a little cold in Great Britain, so much of our traditional food is warm and hearty.
I could list lots of meals that remind me of my upbringing and bring a smile to my face even on a grey miserable day. Happy memories of our childhoods come flooding back after a certain smell or taste from the kitchen, along with the feeling of being safe and cared for.
A few meals even have specific days, Friday night fish and chips with brown sauce, and buckets loads of malt vinegar and salt, always bring on a craving when we think about them. Or a Sunday Roast, beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and more veggies than you can imagine.
It goes without saying we miss these, but in our current house sit in Mexico we have an oven and cooked a roast dinner for our American neighbours, we even got them to bring Bisto gravy from America. A roast dinner needs to be covered in gravy!! Just in case you are wondering, it went down a storm…
How has travel affected the way you think about food?
Currently Kellie is having real problems with her stomach on this trip and has suffered terribly with salmonella for months, so in one respect she has had to become really careful about the food she eats, until she recovers fully. This has meant no meat, dairy and most other tasty things. This sucks! I know how much she loves her food, so it has been very difficult for her. I think it makes it even harder when I consume practically everything with no bad side effects.
We are currently house sitting way off the grid in Mexico and rely on a local food truck once a week to bring supplies. It’s a bit of a lottery; you never know what they will bring. You become really aware of using everything that you buy, you can’t be wasteful when living in the middle of the jungle, there are no supermarkets to pop to.
Do you have a technique to try and understand local cuisine? (ie: Attending cooking classes or food tours? Hunting the best street food?)
We plan to do a food course in every country we visit. We did one in Thailand and discovered loads about authentic Thai cuisine. It’s the little insights you get in the lessons that take your cooking up to the next level. We also research online to find out about local dishes before visiting restaurants and to help us recreate them at home.
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?
The most expensive and memorable meal we had together cost £3,500!! Now before you go thinking we have expensive tastes, we can happily tell you it was a mistake by the restaurant. It should have been £70, but they accidentally charged us for the wedding party they had in that night. Must have been a good party, my heart skipped a beat when I checked my bank balance!
Thankfully the restaurant was incredibly apologetic when we rang them, they refunded it instantly and gave us a free meal to say sorry. It was the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow, Scotland. To be honest the food is so good there that in the end we were happy they’d made the mistake. We ate like Kings on our free meal, fillet steak, scallops, a trio of wine flutes from around the world and parsnip ice cream with pecan pie. I almost have to wipe the unattractive drool off my chin as I type this. Despite the mix up with the bill made, I would go back in an instant!
What food have you tried in your travels that some might find shocking or surprising? Would you eat it again?
I (Rob) ate a witchetty grub in Australia on a bush tucker tour. This giant maggoty thing is apparently a good source of protein and the Aborigines swear by it. I shall not be eating it again, but it won’t put me off trying other weird and wonderful snacks. We are heading to Ecuador eventually, which is famous for some of its unusual cuisine. Fried guinea pig anyone??!! Maybe…
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?
Wow this is difficult!! How do we chose just one?!
I’d go for France. It seems butter is the main cooking ingredient, which I am completely happy with. They do the simple things well, fresh bread, cheese and pate, with a glass of wine. Oui Oui!!
They do GOOD pastries and chocolate.
They do the fancy stuff even better. Yes, I could explore the cuisine of France for the rest of my life.
Kellie would go for Italian food. Reason, there is not a day that goes by when she couldn’t eat pizza.
Just on a side note, from this interview I have learnt you should never write about food when you are hungry and have nothing exciting in your cupboard. I’m absolutely starving now…