Is your stomach closed-minded? Are you the picky one? Try to eat or drink what you’re given. And like it.
It was like traveling with a 4 year old who only likes mac and cheese. Here we are in the Dominican Republic, first night, ready to find waves in the morning, and our gracious host serves up goat stew. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but shit, this wasn’t Chipotle, this was someone’s home, where we were guests. Plus, the Palm was all booked and the Four Seasons had a new chef. So Goat stew it was.
So I ate, and my friend did not. He didn’t “Like” goat. It was “gross.” Rude, right? Our poor host. In that moment, to our host, we went from stoked-white-guys-looking-for-waves-in-the-D.R.-and-we’re-going-to-help-them-find-some to fuck-those-whiteys.
When talking about traveling and eating while traveling, there are two types of people that are missing out. First is the food-ignorant, those that only eat what they’re familiar with no matter where in the world they are. That might mean McDonalds in Munich, or Kraft Mac and Cheese in Barcelona. (My goat-hating friend falls into this camp.) The second is the food snob, those who turn up their nose towards ordinary food because it’s what the rest of us eat. They’re insecure in their own senses so they try to impress the rest of us by ordering an expensive bottle of wine, or making some ridiculous food substitution just to sound fancy. “You must add the truffles”, etc.
Don’t be either of these people. They’re bullshit and double bullshit.
A true food lover tries different things in different parts of the world. They realize that the food and drink in these parts of the world are gateways to learning something about the people and culture of that area. When you allow your tastebuds to lead the way, you realize many of the cultures and places you experience around the world have their history and social fabric inseparably interweaved with what they’re eating (and drinking). It’s less about some hippie wanderlust and the surface level experience of trying new things, and more about diving in fully to… live life. Anthony Bourdain knows this. Do you?
The next time you’re out, whether it’s the weird Turkish place around the corner or some back alley in Asia, just eat what’s on the menu. If you don’t know what to order, have the same thing as the guy next to you, especially if he’s old and leathery. Even if it has goat. Make no substitutions, ask lots of questions. You’ll like the results. —Paul Brewer