Backpacking Food Tip: How to Find and Eat Local
Initially when I started touring and going places, I used to stick to what was familiar. However, it also meant missing out on experiences – good or bad which I might not get again. Going for traditional American fast-food which costs at the higher end of regular local food meant that the cost also builds up. I took my first steps in Brussells where I tried a peppered chicken burger at a local joint; Tonton Chami which was fantastic. I tried “Belgian” waffles in UK, Turkey, and a handful of other countries – none even came close to what I had in Brussells. If I ever go back, it will be for the waffle; delicious fresh with strawberries and bananas, runny chocolate sauce and fresh cream =)
On the other hand I also learned I didn’t like Turkish Manti (pasta don’t go well in yogurt and oil), and I didn’t take the step on trying out Red Herring in Amsterdam which my husband experimented with, he’s also developed a taste of raw fish – something which I can’t even imagine trying. I also found Lebanese Za’atar to be too strong for my taste, but my husband loves it.
Local breads from bakeries are always unique and wonderful – I try to seek out wherever I go. I still can’t forget a random Turkish Bakery where I tried some layered pastry bread which we came across in Istanbul while walking from Taksim square to Bhosphrous.
The best food I’ve encountered is where the restaurants seem family run, can’t speak a word of English, and have to explain using pictures and action (Yes, I want an animal that runs on two legs, not four – hopefully they don’t have mutant chickens!) – but all these exist outside the main tourist area. Imagine a large city subdivided into districts and each of those districts having main areas where locals shop, eat and hang out. The districts with fewer tourist places seem to have the best food.
Of all the places I’ve tried recently, a simple Turkish pizza I had was probably one of the best. I started from the Tulips garden in Sultan Ahmet and took a lovely walk along the waters, all the way around Blue mosque. We saw the sunset, the city lights coming on the bridge and on Asian side. The sky was turning purple as we finished our walk and came up to some unknown street where an empty shop; Kervan Pide was open with an aged-oven.
All this enlightenment came with experiences and through trial and error. Pushing the limits (while keeping halal) always opens up new experiences to talk about.