Trying Foreign Food When You Travel: Don’t Say Yuck

Warning: This post may contain images that viewers might find disturbing.

One of best things about traveling is getting to try food and drinks that you’ve never had before. Whether it be a fruit, vegetable or protein that you’ve never seen in your home country before, combination of flavors or dishes you’ve never tried- there is something for every adventurous level.

I love trying everything at least once because curiosity really did kill the cat.

Escamoles (ant larvae) in Mexico

Food is another path to explore another country which is so intricately intertwined into every day life in every country. Ingredients that thrive in the country’s climate tell a story of cultural influences or cross cultural influences and taste of cuisine. Dishes that are considered delicacies often can be linked to cultural or religious beliefs and sometimes, tell a story about the country’s historical or economic past.

Chicken stuffed sticky rice in Taiwan
Cuy (guinea pig) in Peru

I have been around other travelers when trying these foods and drinks who have proclaimed their disgust of their new food. Out loud. In front of the host who has explained to us what it was and offered it to try. Some may find it funny and maybe the hosts were looking for this reaction knowing it wasn’t to everyone’s taste but I think it’s actually offensive. While everyone is completely entitled to their opinion, I just think that it’s rude to be overly crass about your opinion if something is not quite to your taste.

It’s offensive because in some parts of the world, what you have just proclaimed your disgust to, is sometimes all they have or part of their everyday life. Just because it’s not familiar to you and your taste buds, doesn’t mean it’s not well accustomed to elsewhere.

It might be something that has meaning culturally and personally. There are a lot of festivals and celebrations around the world where certain dishes are associated with them for generations.

It might be something they never saw as gross or sometimes costly, time consuming to prepare or very seasonal.

Food is part of a bigger picture.

Deep fried tarantula in Cambodia

Take for example, the tarantula. Deep fried tarantula is eaten in Cambodia and is a good source of protein. During the Khmer Rouge Regime, food was scarce and tarantulas along with other insects became an essential food source for the people for survival.

The next time you are able to try local dishes that you never have before, or remember a past experience of your adventurous dish choices- I urge you remember food as part of a bigger story.

Lotus Root in the back of a Tuk Tuk in Cambodia

How comfortable are you with trying new food? What are your thoughts on bad reactions to foreign food?

21 thoughts on “Trying Foreign Food When You Travel: Don’t Say Yuck

  1. pinaymama@sg

    Fully agree with you! I’ve seen these kinds of reactions too and it makes things terribly awkward for everybody, especially the host (if the food was offered in earnest). IMO, if you have nothing good to say about the food keep it to yourself! You can always politely decline. 🙂

  2. I’m a pretty adventurous eater, so I would try most things as long as I didn’t think they would make me sick. Even if I don’t like something I eat in another country, I’m at least polite about it. No need to fuel the fire that Americans already get for being rude travelers.

  3. 100% agree about trying new foods but you have definitely tried more strange ones than me. I guess the delicacy I’ve had is horse meat in the Stans and grasshoppers in Mexico. But you definitely win here haha

    1. I’m always up for trying new foods. I haven’t had horse meat but really really liked the grasshoppers in Mexico! Would’ve brought back some but couldn’t find a closed jar of them haha

  4. I love trying new food when I travel – it’s one of the best things about travelling as you get to discover so many exciting new things. The night markets in Asia are so fantastic for that, I just need to be careful not to order anything too spicy! The one thing I couldn’t bring myself to try was stinky tofu because I don’t like tofu but I still feel bad.

    Then again, I’m from Scotland so our food is one of the ones that people often go “yuck” to so I guess that probably shaped my attitude towards “weird” food because ours is delicious so most other ones probably are too!

    1. Exactly. You still feel bad for not trying the stinky tofu? Something for your next trip! That’s such a great attitude to have with food. I’ve not been to Scotland yet but haggis will definitely be tried once there.

  5. I’m not at all adventurous when it comes to trying new food but my dear hubby will eat most things ..he tried puffin in Iceland and grasshoppers in Vietnam and so many other things, I like to stick to things I know

  6. Pingback: Mexican Food: Cactus (Nopales) – Lingo in Transit

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