To travel is to eat

If you’re anything like me, then you believe that one of the main reasons to travel is to experience new cuisines. I’ve had my fair share of variety on this trip so far, and I haven’t even left India yet. I began my culinary adventures at an ashram in Varanasi, where the food was reliable, but not very exciting. By the end of my month-long stay there I was happy to leave curried vegetables and white rice behind. Since then I’ve sampled many other kinds of Indian cuisine. This country is enormous, so it’s not surprising that there is a wide variety of food.

Even though I’ve not traveled to the south, dishes from this region are delicious, dosas in particular, a kind of crêpe filled with potatoes and other vegetables. I am also now a full-fledged fan of Tibetan cuisine, which I discovered in Mcleod Ganj, home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. There is one restaurant in particular there, Gakyi, which serves momos (dumplings) to die for, and Tibetan brown bread that I now crave daily. I tried to ask for the recipe, but to no avail. Guess I will have to experiment when I return home.

On more than one occasion, I have been told that Kashmir is a must-see destination, and Kashmiri food alone was enough to convince me. Favorites from this region include Kashmiri naan, naan filled with dried fruit and nuts, and Kashmiri tea, a delightful concoction of tea, black or green, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and a hint of saffron. This I have been shown how to make by my Kashmiri friends, and I plan to make it a staple of my diet upon my return.

Eating Indian-style. Lunch every day is rice, dahl, mixed vegetables, and chapati. Photo by Melanie Hansen.
Eating Indian-style. Lunch every day is rice, dahl, mixed vegetables, and chapati. Photo by Melanie Hansen.

One of the best ways to learn about a culture is to experience its cuisine. It is also a great way to connect with people. Everyone eats, and there is nothing like sharing a meal to bring people from all walks of life together. So as you travel, don’t forget that to refuse a meal or a taste of something new, you might also be missing out on a chance to connect with new friends. Bon appétit!

Melanie Hansen currently finds herself traveling in India and Thailand. At the moment she is enjoying taking photos of her travels, eating strange new foods, and blogging about her adventures.