New Perspectives on Food

I’m going to change gears from talking about adventurous travel and photography to talk about food and travel again. Previously, I had talked about how my trip to Wales had opened my horizons with respect to lamb. As I travel, I’m finding this to be a common phenomenon. When I travel to places that specialize in certain foods, I find that I’m enjoying these foods that I had previously disliked. It probably has to do with the freshness of the foods in those places. Whatever the reason, it’s delightful to be proven wrong about different classes of food.

In Turkey, I discovered vegetables. Yep, you read that right. I had spent my life hating most vegetables, with the notable exception of cucumbers. They were either unbearably raw, tasteless, soggy, or covered in oil. But one year in Istanbul, I remember distinctly eating dinner on a rooftop hotel. The wine dark Bosporus was on one side. There was a wedding with a bouncy castle in the hotel gardens below me. And on the roof above me, the World Cup game of Brazil v. France was going on. I only remember the vegetables side that came with my entrée. They were a revelation. These carrots and eggplant were marvelous and they weren’t covered in sauces or oils. I didn’t know vegetables could be taste like that.

Later on the trip, we had a lovely brunch outside in the outskirts of Izmir.  I was reveling in the vegetable dishes so much that our hosts asked me if I was vegetarian. That has never been a question until then. And if I were to go vegetarian, I could do it with an endless supply of Turkish food. Also, that was the meal that I discovered figs the size of my fist.

In a completely different part of the world and table, I discovered that green tea was quite good on my trip to Japan. I’m a big tea drinker but I’ve also been inclined to black teas. Green tea was okay if there was no black tea. (Herbal tea is the devil itself…most of the time). But my trip to Japan changed that. The green tea in Japan was light and tasty as any black tea. All of it was good, even the green tea in the hotel room, on the plane, and much more. I fell in love with one brand, Lupicia, which makes amazing green tea blends. I tried their “Chestnut” tea and their “Autumn Harvest,” which were wonderful. Sadly, it appears that Lupicia does not make those blends anymore so I’ll always have the wistful memories of these flavors. There is nothing like scarcity to etch a taste and feeling into your mind. To be fair, my new-found love of green tea may be because it reminds me of that crazy three days to Japan. Whatever the reason, I now relish my cups of green tea.

Finally, this past year, I discovered fish tacos in Baltimore. Now Baltimore is known for its seafood, which I adore. On the other hand, I’m not a huge fan of fish unless it is raw. (Sushi is love). I tend to shy away from all things cooked fish. But on a work trip to Baltimore, I decided to try fish tacos from Whole Foods at the suggestion of a coworker. We were in a rush after dropping off red roses at Edgar Allen Poe’s grave on our lunch break. It seemed like the simplest option. And boy, it was a good idea. I didn’t expect to like them as much as I did since they were slightly blackened, which I don’t tend to like.  I relished each tangy and smoky piece of those tacos. I even had good fish tacos at the airport restaurant before leaving Baltimore. So now, fish tacos are an option at taco joints for me.

Anyway, those are just a few examples of how my taste buds have been unexpectedly surprised by local foods. I can’t wait to see what destroys my preconceptions next!

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