Food brings people together. Even when language is a challenge, sharing a meal breaks down barriers quickly. Some of our fondest travel memories involve meals we’ve shared or recipes we’ve brought home from a trip. Through our Food for Thought series, we hope to learn more about other travelers’ journeys, and the role food plays for them. A new interview is published each Friday. This week we are honored to present the thoughts of Matt from LandLopers. We’ve followed his adventures for quite some time, but only more recently discovered he has such passion for food. While he says he’s not a foodie, he loves to explore new places and cultures using his taste buds. We can relate! One of our favorite food posts is about the five foods Matt would travel for! As fellow pulled-pork lovers ourselves, we’re planning to seek out his recommendations while in Virginia!
An experiential traveler at heart, Matt Long shares his adventures with thousands of readers every day through his award winning travel blog, LandLopers.com. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Matt is a Washington, DC based travel blogger and has been featured on many other web sites and publications including BBC Travel, CNN GO, Huffington Post, AFAR Magazine and National Geographic Intelligent Travel. His work is also syndicated on Alltop and the Flipboard and Pulse apps.
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?
Well I think it’s part of the experience. There are many ways to learn about new cultures, but food is without a doubt an important one. It’s also one of the fastest ways to gain insights to a new country.
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 live in the Washington, DC metro area and we really don’t have a signature food, but I’m also from Virginia and I definitely identify great BBQ with the state. I don’t crave it per se, but I do love finding well-done pulled pork. When I’m away from home I crave staples like burgers and pizza more than anything.
How has travel affected the way you think about food?
It’s taught me to be more adventurous with my eating habits and to keep an open mind. I’ve learned a lot by trying new foods and learning how to replicate them at home. I’ve also learned that for many folks around the world, food is the ultimate way they offer hospitality. It’s more than just a necessity, it’s an act of kindness.
Do you have a technique to try and understand local cuisine? (ie: Attending cooking classes or food tours? Hunting the best street food?)
I love both taking cooking classes and going on food tours. Both activities are a lot of fun and I try to do at least one while traveling. I recently took an amazing food tour in London that explored the culinary side of the East End. It was one of the best I’ve ever done.
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?
Peking duck in Taipei. I have never had anything quite like it before and the combination of flavors is one of my favorite. I can’t say exactly why I loved it so much, but it is a meal I will always remember.
What food have you tried in your travels that some might find shocking or surprising? Would you eat it again?
I’m not a very adventurous eater, so anything that is unsavory from my American point of view always shocks me. Whether it’s bugs or snakes or whatever, unusual food always takes me aback and no, I never eat it.
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?
Probably the food in Jordan. It’s one of my favorite cuisines and I’m pretty sure a lifetime supply of hummus and falafel would make me a happy guy.