Floating Flowers Magazine

just some words about cultural tourism

Luxurious restaurants or street food?

What do you prefer to eat when you’re on your holiday?

Even before people come to visit this diverse country, people are already being familiarised with ‘Mexican food’. Although this may not be the type of food that Mexicans would describe as typical, the world outside of its borders does. Therefore I was extremely curious to Mexican cuisine when I first arrived. Immediately I went to a local restaurant and had a delicious dinner: Quesadillas, Arroz, and Tacos. But hey, it didn’t taste at all like the ‘Mexican food’ I was so familiar with. No… this was way better. A new world of foodies opened up to me. Hoping that this will happen to every traveler, I started writing.

Have you ever thought about where your food is coming from? Searching through the internet, there is no need to say that this question arises more and more attention among people from all over the world. Organic food, fair trade – where not only food but also human conditions are considered – meetings, discussions etcetera. All this to raise consciousness. Healthy living, with good nutrition for body and soul – that’s what it is all about these days. And that is something fabulous!

Though I wonder how people around the world still do not see food as an important part of their daily routine. Nutrition for the body taken from fast food, microwave meals and loads of small bags with flavors to make a delicious dish in two seconds. Think twice… that just cannot be healthy. And still, people are consuming it. Probably because of a lack of time and a lack of willingness to commit to cook. I have to admit: for a while I was one of those people. But I have always had great interest in a healthy lifestyle imbued with good foodies, yoga and spirituality. To show that there are still people like me, slightly insecure about their cooking skills but more than willing to change their habits and, for once and for all, to commit to good food, I started Pure Cooking. A place to share recipes that are truly easy and can be made by everyone throughout the world, without using prefab-spices and other ingredients that should not be in your food, let along in your body.

So, what does this narrative have to do with cultural tourism and the tourism industry in general? Well, I am wondering how many people think about where their food comes from when they are eating at (local) restaurants on their travel destination. And how people choose their places to eat when at the holiday spot. It already starts when boarding the plane at long haul flights: the meals that they serve: what is their origin? Many international airlines offer the service to pre-book your meal when booking the ticket. This is great, because it means that they are taking into account that there are people with different needs, beliefs and bodies. Still: are these meals freed from unidentifiable ingredients? A question that is worth thinking about.

Durian - local super fruit

Durian – local super fruit

Arriving at your destination, the choice is up to you. Going to a popular spot, you’ll have a wide variety of restaurants that might even serve dishes from your home country! Isn’t that great? To be honest… I think it’s something revolting. Why on earth would you travel that far to stay in your comfort zone as much as possible, knowing deep down in your heart, which beats with fear for the unknown, that the food has traveled for miles to end up at your plate?

Alternatively, you can choose to overcome your fear for the unfamiliar and go to local restaurants. Yes, there are a lot of stories about people getting really sick after a visit to such a restaurant. But if you take into account the following three golden rules, you should be fine:

  • Count the number of people eating at the local restaurant. If you are still not convinced, count for one or two days. Rule: Is the place empty? Don’t go there. Is the place filled with people of whom your destination is their home? Go there! It’s a popular place, which probably means good (and cheap) food.
  • Consider whether it’s a small restaurant, or a road stall. This makes a huge different, and often tourists confuse these to and gather them under the same name: local restaurant. Which is not true. Often, hygienic standards are worse at such road stalls and are sufficient at local restaurants. Rule: is there a roof and official entrée, are there chairs and tables and an inside kitchen? Do the employees use clean cloths? Enjoy your dinner!
  • Make sure you are able to see the kitchen and the ingredients they use. You might come across local restaurants that use food that is exposed to the heath of the sun or dust from the road, because they store it (at times pre-cooked) at the entrée of their restaurant to attract customers. Rule: is there food, stored inside in a cool area? Go there! Is the food window-exposed or is there no food visible at all? Don’t go there!

Following these rules, I am sure you will leave these local restaurants with a body that is nourished in a more healthy way than going to your comfort zone restaurant at Tourist Street!

A market in Mexico

A market in Mexico

If you have the opportunity to cook your own meals, go and get your ingredients at local restaurants and avoid supermarkets. It will enrich your experience of the culture you visit and gives you better inside into the country’s cuisine. For travelers who are able to speak the destination’s language, a market is the perfect spot to get in touch with their hosts. Before heading to a marketplace, always ask for (safety) information at your hotel/hostel and take the recommended precautions.

The reason why I wrote this piece is to increase awareness among travelers. Please think twice before choosing your place to fill your body and soul with aliments that will provide energy and health. Going to a local restaurant is not only better for yourself, it also helps the local community, local economy and local food production – which in the end is better for your body, because this means that the food did not have to travel so long before it ended up on your plate!

 

© 2014 by Debbie Vorachen – Floating Flowers. All rights reserved.

Are you interested in the recipes on Pure Cooking? Like the page! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments on “Luxurious restaurants or street food?

  1. Bama
    June 13, 2014

    Well written Debbie. In many parts of the world food reflects different cultures in different places. Hence traveling without sampling local food means missing out a lot of the local culture.

    Speaking of local restaurant, I do agree with you about the distinction between small restaurant/local joint with street stall. A blogger once wrote about her experience trying food at ‘local restaurants’ and getting sick because of it. The fact was even the locals considered those stall unhygienic and unhealthy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • floatingflowersmagazine
      June 13, 2014

      Thank you Bama, and thank you for sharing your memory about the other blogger. I hope nobody will get sick with these golden rules 🙂 Take care.

      Like

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This entry was posted on June 12, 2014 by in Anthropology, Cultural Tourism, Health and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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