For some travelers I know, food is one of the top priorities on their journeys. I have to admit right up front – I am NOT one of those travelers. For me, I want to see things, experience things, meet people, and do lots and lots of photography. Sampling the local cuisine is very low on my list of travel priorities. ( I have eaten at some of the finest and strangest McDonald’s all over the world.) Still, I always try to check out a bit of the local fare in the interest of experiencing the culture. It is part of the adventure of travel.
It was this spirit of adventure that seated me at a small sushi bar in Tokyo one evening. I had summoned my nerve and entered a totally local / native establishment and was the sole foreign diner in the place. Now you have to remember, I’m from the mid-west. Sushi and such never really crossed my radar, if you know what I mean. I was truly out of my element in so, so many ways. I speak no Japanese and there was very little English happening in my restaurant that evening. Fortunately, most Japanese eating establishments have menus with delightful photos of their offerings – indeed, most have plastic models of their items on display at their entrance. So I spent the evening sitting on one side of the bar (with the chefs on the other) pointing to the photo of the item I desired and then watching the chefs do the preparation. It was really quite an experience. Of course I really had no idea what I was eating that evening. (Later research revealed that my menu selections included Sushi, Shashimi, Wasabi, Yakitori, Gyoza and a variety of strange sea creatures in Tempura) Some were delicious – and some were truly odd.
Over the course of the evening the chefs and I developed a sense of camaraderie, smiling and laughing as we went through this selection and tasting routine. A bit of sake added to the experience no doubt. One chef warned me off of one of my selections with a big smile and a rapid negative shake of his head. Having already tasted a few items of questionable culinary value – I quickly heeded his advice.
It was a great experience. Truly a bit of international sharing. Something that I would never have encountered at McDonald’s. All of it just goes to show that you’ve got to stretch a bit when traveling – get out of your comfort zone.
Have you sampled any interesting local cuisine on your travels? Care to share?
Try Some Food ……….And Enjoy The Adventure!
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