The concept of my current diet has developed over time. I read many books and articles on healthy nutrition, thus I started to acquire an insight in the field previously completely unknown to me. The switch to my current dietary regime has not happened overnight. Rather, it was a subtle process based both on my newly acquired knowledge, but also on my personal experience as I started to notice improvements in my general well being after I had eliminated harmful foods.
Visiting distant foreign destinations and unfamiliar cultures is always very exciting. One important component of travel is food. We all have to eat, several times every day. We also form our perception of a place that we are visiting according to our culinary experiences. If we eat well, we are satisfied and content. It positively enhances our overall impression of that particular destination. This is especially true in countries where the cuisine is significantly different to the cuisine to which we are usually accustomed to. Trying new, unfamiliar and strange tasting and looking dishes is exciting and gratifying at the same time.
When it comes to food, I am very open minded. I normally want to try everything at least once, so that I can decide whether I like it or not. There are not many foods that I wouldn’t eat. However, I don’t eat many things because of my dietary constraints and because I think that they are not good for me. People use same ingredients all over the world, although in some countries they prepare food in radically different ways. But, that’s good because it brings novelty to what would otherwise be the same thing that we normally eat at home.
Usually, the most important meal of the day for me is dinner. Going for dinner is an important ritual at the end of the day. Dinner is time when I can properly summarise and assimilate many impressions of that particular day.
So, let’s have a look at some of the dishes that I had during my previous travels. Also, whether or not they were good for me, in the context of my current dietary habits.
I like Chinese food. While most ingredients in the Chinese cuisine are exactly the same as in various European cuisines, they taste very differently.
When I go to China, I normally only eat Chinese food. What I like is that the Chinese base their cuisine on meat and vegetable dishes, which is what I normally eat.
There is rice and noodles too, which you can easily avoid. But, for me the Chinese meal is not a proper meal without some egg fried rice. I also find that eating just meat and vegetables is not very filling, unless I order many various dishes that usually come in smaller portions. The idea is to order more than one dish, something similar to the way that you would eat Spanish tapas.
I also like Thai food. It’s very similar to the Chinese food, at least in my perception. I am sure that both Chinese and Thai people would say that there are drastic differences.
Perhaps, there are certain flavours that the Chinese use, but not the Thais. However, as I come from a different part of the world, I can’t really detect such culinary nuances. Of course, there are dishes that are typically Thai such as Pad Thai, but there are many similar noodle based dishes in China. I had some very good meals during my stay in Thailand.
One country that is very famed for its cuisine is Italy. Italians say that you always eat well in Italy, which is mainly true. If you stay away from touristic restaurants in very touristic places and if you go to places where the locals go, you will certainly eat well. When I’m in Italy, I normally only go to family run establishments that cater for the local population. For such places to be successful and thrive, they have to maintain a very high standard. But the Italian cuisine is largely based on carbohydrates, with pizza and various pasta dishes offered in abundance. Pizza, a dish invented in Italy, is happily consumed all over the world.
Another iconic delicacy in Italy is the ice cream. For some reason, Italians make the best ice cream. True, you can find good ice cream in other countries too. In Italy, you will find good ice cream almost everywhere. I sent the photo below to a nutritionist friend of mine and he replied with two words: “poisoning people”. Perhaps his comment was too harsh, although licking two or three balls of pure sugar certainly can’t be good for anyone’s health. I’m aware that the pleasure and gratification that you feel when you lick your ice cream are beyond any description, especially during hot summer evenings.
I also like Spanish food. When I ask my Spanish friends whether they think that the Spanish food is the best in the world, they all without fail say yes. But when I ask my Italian friends the same question, they also without fail say yes.
This is very funny. I don’t think that it’s correct to say that food is the best in any one country. It’s certainly possible to eat well everywhere. If you use good, fresh ingredients and you cook them properly, the end result has to be good. Strong opinions on the subject of food, as expressed by Spanish and Italian people, are the result of what they are accustomed to and not because those are really the best foods that can be eaten.
When I go to Spain, I particularly like tapas – they typically serve tapas as small plates and you can order several dishes, for novelty and variety.
When I was in Barcelona, I had a lot of seafood tapas. Barcelona is by the sea, thus seafood is more prominently featured in the restaurant menus and it’s very affordable.
I like going to Turkey. The Turkish cuisine is very similar to the Serbian cuisine. That’s not surprising, Serbia was part of the Ottoman Empire for approximately 500 years. There are many identical dishes. In fact, I wrote a post about my culinary experiences during my recent travel across Turkey.
Perhaps, the Turkish cuisine is more authentic as it hasn’t been exposed to various European influences, which are very present in the Serbian cuisine. Although, I am pretty sure that there are many Arabic influences in the Turkish cuisine.
What can I say? I love Serbian food, but that’s not strange. I am from Serbia, I grew up on dishes that my mother prepared for me. But the same as everywhere else, it’s either healthy or unhealthy, it all depends on choices that we make when we choose our food.
I also wrote a post about my culinary experiences during my six-moth stay in Serbia last year. You can decide for yourself whether or not the Serbian food seems exciting and whether or not I made good, healthy choices.
INSECTS & OTHER ADVENTUROUS FOOD
Then, there are dishes and food products that are completely unfamiliar to us. One example is the assortment of various edible bugs and insects, in the photo below, on offer in the night market in Chiang Mai. I tried a grasshopper. It was perfectly fine to eat, although apart from being crunchy, there wasn’t much else to it.
Or perhaps deliciously looking deep fried black scorpions on offer in the market near the Wangfujing street in Beijing.
In that same market, you could also buy miniature scorpions on skewers. They kept them alive for maximum freshness, before deep frying them for maximum indulgence.
However, my most favourite unfamiliar food, that I tried in Pingjiang road in Suzhou, were marinated chicken feet. It’s a fine delicacy and a very popular food item in China. But there is not much to eat there, chicken feet are just a bone.
IS HEALTHY NUTRITION DIFFICULT?
My diet is based on elimination of all food products that, after being eaten, are rapidly digested with the consequence of abnormal spikes in blood sugar levels. This primarily happens with carbohydrates. I avoid bread, pasta and other wheat products, also potatoes. I eat rice in limited quantities. By analysing photos in this post, I’m aware that almost every meal contained something that, according to my dietary principles, I shouldn’t have eaten.
While I’m certainly not fanatical about my nutrition, I’m also aware that it’s very hard for me to adhere to my diet when I’m away from home. Temptations are everywhere. Almost every restaurant meal comes with ingredients that I try to avoid. At the same time, it’s very hard for me not to eat if I’m hungry and if everything presented to me looks temptingly delicious.
I’ll come back to this topic. My intention is to be more careful with regard to what I eat when I travel. I’ll keep analysing whether that’s possible and to what extent. There are ways in which one can be in more control. For example, staying in an apartment with a well equipped kitchen can be one simple option and that’s exactly what I did when I was in Belgrade for six month last year. It is going to be an interesting exploratory journey and I’ll keep periodical up-dates.