6 Things I Learned from Eating with Locals
I know, it’s not always easy to dive into the local cuisine of a place. Sometimes you have allergies, or keep a diet that limits your options. But whenever you can, dive in to a meal with those nice ladies who always wave you over as you walk down your street.
1) Many cultures center around food. Learn the most important values in a society by watching how people interact over a meal. Do the women always get served first? Does the oldest person cut the meat? Watching and learning over a meal can give you insight into the community’s structure.
2) Learn food words! I always try to learn food words first, as well as polite words like “delicious” and “thank you.” And there’s no easier way than over a meal! Learn practical names of food so you can order for yourself later on.
3) Make friends, and get suggestions for places to visit and things to do. Some of the absolute best times I’ve had were impromptu trips to a waterfall after eating food with a man who was astonished I hadn’t see the falls yet, and who loaded me and his family into the car for a family outing.
4) Find a new favorite food. Your favorite food might be waiting, and how can you discover it unless you’re exposed to new things? That dish you thought you would hate just might turn out to be the one you dream about. And hey— if you really do hate it, won’t that be a good story for the blog.
5) Save money. While this might not be a motivating factor for everyone, it is definitely worth noting that local food typically costs a fraction of the cost of restaurants catering to Western tourists. Saving a few dollars here and there might be what ends up letting you buy a 3 day temple pass instead of just a one-day.
6) Last, and certainly not least — support the local economy, and make sure the amazing culture you have come to experience has the support to continue their way of life, of which food is no small part.
Hope those tips helped! And check out our various local food and cooking programs, all at insighttours.org. Happy eating!