I asked four of my favorite travel bloggers one question: What was your most memorable meal on the road? Their answers brought stories of good company, fresh food and enviable locations. And they confirm that everyday meals are key to connecting with people and places.
Fried Fish: Local Caribbean Style – by Jules & Christine from Don’t Forget to Move
As traveling vegetarians, especially in Latin America, it was often difficult to come across good food. When things got tough occasionally we’d eat a little fish (which I know technically makes us pescatarians), but we’d only eat it when we knew it came from humane local sources. While spending time on the Corn Islands in Nicaragua we had an amazing opportunity to get involved first hand when our neighbour offered to take us out fishing to catch our own lunch.
Taking a shaky two-man canoe out into shark invested Caribbean waters, a couple of hundred meters off shore, Elton steered us towards an unbelievable fishing spot where we caught enough fish to feed his whole extended family. Once back on shore we prepared everything together and cooked up an absolute feast. Over the next couple of hours we all stuffed our faces with fresh fish deep fried in coconut oil (that his father makes at their house) and fried plantain chips. In the background country music blared from his one good speaker and we washed down the meal with some cold beers and cheap rum.
Street Food in Penang – by Margherita and Nick from The Crowded Planet
Food is a very important component of travel for us; we love sampling local specialties, going to local restaurants and (rarely) to fancy ones. We have a serious weakness for street food, and the place where we’ve had the best street food was Penang, in Malaysia.
One day for lunch, our dear Penangite friend Poay Lum took us to a food court for lunch. We sat down, and he disappeared to order a bunch of local specialties from the stalls. Then, an array of delicious dishes appeared at our table. The first delicacy we tried was char keoy teow, a pan-fried noodle dish with prawns and Chinese sausages. Then we tried asam laksa, very different from every other laksa I had ever had, a deep orange broth tangy with tamarind. Another delicious dish was deep fried oyster omelette, which sounds like heart attack on a plate, but was actually creamy and delicious. There were a couple other soups and some satays, and then it was time for dessert; cendol, a mountain of shaved ice with syrups, coconut milk and sweet beans. On the way back, I couldn’t resist stopping at a durian stand. I am very partial to the king of fruit, and there was no other way to finish the most delicious lunch of my life than a bite of my favourite fruit ever.
A Pineapple Curry in the Hills of Sri Lanka – by Jon from Jon is Travelling
I can count the number of vegetarian meals I’ve had on one hand, and the number that I actually enjoyed on one finger. That meal was the best I’ve had in Asia and had everyone at the table saying the same. It was pretty simple fare – pineapple curry with rice, poppadoms and a couple of vegetable side dishes. The friendliness of the Sri Lankan Muslim hosts, along with the amazing hill country scenery just outside the front door only added to the delicious food. I was in Haputale, a small town surrounded by tea plantations and home to some of Sri Lanka’s best views. There is some great hiking in the area, but if you just want to relax and eat some unique and memorable food head to Bawa Guesthouse – just make sure you’re hungry!
Dinner at a Ryokan – by Manouk from Bunch of Backpackers
I was sitting on a train to Nikko (Japan) when an old Japanese couple got on board. They looked around for seats and I scooted over so there would be room for them. Thankfully they took the seats. After noticing my Japan guidebook we started talking a bit (didn’t go much further than where are you from, etc.). We both got out in Nikko and I told them I would go find a ‘ryokan’ (Traditional Japanese Inn). To my surprise they hinted that I should go with them. At that moment I didn’t really know what to expect and where we’d go. They were both really old and their English was very limited. However, after a short bus ride we got to a beautiful ryokan in the middle of the mountains and to my surprise they invited me to stay with them. We got dressed in traditional Japanese robes and in the evening we had a beautiful dinner in the ryokan with some of the best Japanese food I ate during my trip. Even though we couldn’t really speak to each other we had a great time during dinner. We even had some sake. I felt so lucky to have met this incredibly sweet couple. By the end of the evening they started calling me ‘Manouk-san, English teacher’. The next morning I visited some sights with them in Nikko and we exchanged emails. Unfortunately, we both traveled different ways after that, but I’ll never forget them.
When I think of the term “on the road,” I immediately recall the many road trips I’ve taken across Spain. My favorite way of grabbing a meal or lunch was to pull off the highway in a rural area and pop into the first restaurant I found. Invariably, I would order a Serrano ham bocadillo with Manchego cheese. I would drizzle some olive oil on the bread, take a bite and feel at home in countless unequivocally Spanish joints, with their slot machines dinging in the background.
What was your favorite meal on the road?
The five of us are part of an exciting new travel initiative, the Wednesday Roamers. Look forward to an announcement post with more details!