Food is life in our household. We’re constantly trying new recipes, searching out new restaurants, or planning our next culinary vacation. But I know trying new foods isn’t as easy for everyone. Whether you are traveling abroad, discovering a new restaurant in the next town over, or even if you are considering making an original dish in your own kitchen, trying new foods can be a culinary adventure – and maybe one you’re not sure about taking. If you are ready to take the plunge, here are seven tips for trying new foods that can help make for a great experience.
Read Up on an Unfamiliar Locale
If you’re traveling to another country (or even another city) and are unfamiliar with the cuisine, it may help you feel more confident and prepared to read about what kinds of dishes are most commonly found at restaurants and on the street. This research can go along way to helping you have a positive food experience. I had no idea what Moroccan food was before my first visit and was really let down because I also had no idea what to look for! I depended on other people feeding me and that was a big mistake! This is even more important if you have any food allergies.
Talk to Locals
New foods and unfamiliar dishes can be found as close as just a few towns or cities away, and one of the most effective ways to discover a new favorite is to talk to the people who live there. Ask your hotel concierge which restaurants they would go to eat, not just where they would recommend as often those recommendations are what they think tourists want to eat. I always say, “tell me where your mom would go to have dinner,” or “what restaurants would you take your grandma if you were going for a night out?” Chat up a local family while you are at the beach or a local tourist attraction – they’re the ones who have the best insight!
Read Online Reviews
Few things travel faster than word of mouth online, thanks to mobile apps that allow patrons of restaurants to upload reviews even before they have paid the check. This can be a useful tool for you if you are heading out to eat somewhere you have never visited before. Take reviews with a grain of salt and always look at several to see what people are saying. If the service is slow but the food is great it might be worth the wait. If a review seems particularly harsh you may want to see other reviews that person has left as sometimes they can just be an overly critical patron. It’s also helpful to look at any management responses (if that’s an option), as I find knowing how a place handles complaints is a huge indicator of the experience.
Seek Out New Recipes on Social Media
If you don’t have travel planned and prefer to eat at home you can bring diversity to your table. Thanks to sites like Instagram and Pinterest it’s never been easier to find new dishes. You might even discover a new twist on an old favorite that uses modern and innovative food products. For example, the Hamptoncreek Instagram page features recipe photos and videos that include an array of the company’s plant-based products, all of which are designed to be free of artificial ingredients. You can find suggestions on Instagram by using the search function and typing in what you’re looking for. Using the #recipe hashtag in search is a great way to find actual recipes. Blogs and websites are of course another great way to find unique recipes (like my Moroccan favorites right here!)
Be Adventurous with New Ingredients
If you are used to sticking with familiar foods when you cook or eat in a strange place because you are afraid what unfamiliar ingredients might taste like or do to your stomach, you may be missing out on some delicious dishes. While being cautious has its merit, there are ways to sample new ingredients. One way is to choose a dish you are familiar with that contains a new ingredient. For example, if you love pizza but have never tried anchovies or goat cheese, choosing these toppings can allow you to sample a new ingredient without eating a lot of it. When you’re traveling chances are you’ll see something that looks familiar – give it a try! You might be surprised just how connected our world is even if the ingredients vary.
Just Go For It!
On our food tour one of the biggest surprises is the number of people who love a dish called hout quari. It’s a grilled sardine meatball sandwich and I was sure people would hate it. I was wrong. So many people fall in love with this simple sandwich. For many it’s their first time having sardines. They think they dislike them but then they realize maybe they just haven’t had them done a way they enjoy. Thankfully they’re willing to give it a shot. Sometimes you just have to let down your guard and go for it!
What’s one food surprise you’ve made and have discovered you really enjoyed it?
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