By this point, we have established I have moved around a lot and I love food. This article is right at the intersection of that! I believe one of the best ways to learn new cultures is by trying the local foods and learning about the gastronomic scene. Each place has its own way of doing things, its own tastes, own preparation methods, and its own specialties. It tells you a lot about the people, their history, and what they love.
For example, my two takeaways from living in Pittsburgh is that they all love sports and love fries. This is their thing — and it sits in the middle of most of what I saw and experienced. One of the best ways to enjoy and explore their foods was at sporting events (especially baseball!). They had foods available at their baseball arena that you could not get anywhere else. Not only that — the quality of the food was so top-notch, that it’s actually on many famous lists to try for the city! Secondly, I quickly learned fries go on everything there. I was served pizza with fries on it, and sandwiches and salads with fries in it. You needed to specify to not do that if that is not your jam.
So how can you plan to immerse yourself in local cuisines? These are the three things that I stick to.
Make a list!
Do I even need to say it? We at Simply Prepared thrive on lists. The internet has several collections of “go-to”, “must-try”, “top xx” places to eat based on location, cuisines, dietary preference, etc. If you have tried to find a place to eat through the internet, you will have come across at least one of these lists. They are great sourcing materials. Find local places to eat that interest you and add them to your list! If you really want to commit some time, you can make a spreadsheet of places you want to try and categorize by location, price range, hours, their specialties, what sounds the most interesting to you from their menu, etc. This way, next time you are feeling like going out or ordering in, you already have a list to choose from and can save all that time deciding on where to go. Add people as collaborators to this list who you know you can trust to add valuable suggestions and options.
Find a buddy (to hold you accountable and also to dine with)
Sometimes it is hard to hold yourself accountable to your goals. Every time I move, I always regret missing out on certain places I never made it around to. I know it is impossible to do it all but having a buddy to hold me accountable definitely helps me do more and stay on track. I have set myself some goals based on my budget and needs – I aim to try 3 unique places every month. Having a food buddy also helps you try new things and get out of your own comfort zone by incorporating their likes and preferences too. They can be a contributor on your list and if you make it 4 places a month, you can each choose two of them!
Careful of your rut
One thing I need to keep reminding myself is to stay out of my rut. When I find a good place with great food or fall in love with a dish, I tend to go there too often and eat it a lot that it overtakes me trying new things. This is when a food buddy helps and for those days you have that one craving from a specific place, make sure you go for it. Rework your eating out goals to work in your favorites without exceeding your budget or diet goals. I am also very indecisive when choosing a place or even an item off a menu so if I can go to a place I am familiar with, it just saves me so much time and deciding brain power haha. If you are like me, it takes a bit more work to get out of your comfort zone but I assure you, it will be worth it!