Those who know me personally frequently see me eating the same thing day after day. I can handle a bit of spice but rarely will I venture far from what I know and recognize. I will often buy a Costco case of hummus or a Costco set of eggs and spend the next week and a half eating similar meals. Even when eating out I have kept the same Thai and Falafel restaurants in business for years. But all of that changes the second I step off a plane, look up and see a few signs I can’t read, hear some conversations I can’t understand, and smell the unique aroma of a new place.
In my travels I always make it a point to step outside of my comfort zone. Immersive experiences push me to understand myself and the world at a deeper level.
Travel by its very nature is an exercise in exploration and discovery.
An exercise we do on behalf of our remembering self–that part of us that makes memories and gives reflective meaning to our lives. For a truly fascinating perspective, check out Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s talk at a TED conference. I travel to see, hear, and taste the world in new ways. One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is to embark on culinary adventures.
Some of my favorite and most distinct memories from my travels are experiencing the very strangest of foods. A few of my eating highlights over the years:
- Eating fried mystery meats and scorpions at a Beijing street market after indulging in “river” snails in a remote village near Wuhan.
- Eating ants, piranha, and just about anything else put in front of me from the Ecuadorian jungle.
- Eating sea snails and some other strange-looking sea creatures in Lisbon.
- Eating Hakarl, an Icelandic rotting shark specialty that smells and tastes exactly like most industrial cleaners. For those interested here is a short video explaining how it’s made and just how delicious it is.
Just remember if locals are eating it then it probably won’t kill you. And anyways there probably aren’t many things more poisonous to the human body than a big juicy American cheese burger with bacon, which you put yourself through more often than you would like to admit. I know for myself of all my travels in the world the worst food poisoning I ever got was at a place called the Ram in Seattle’s University District, a mile away from my house.
So get out there and try something new. You might just like it, and even if you hate it, you will have experienced something new and created a memory.