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?
See more of my photos of Japan (click here)
And don’t forget to………..Enjoy The Adventure!
Dr.B, The Photo Trekker