After returning from traveling abroad, people are often quick to discuss the museums, beaches, and nightlife. Though these are crucial aspects that makes a place what it is, there is something I find arguably more important. The sixth love language: food. There is a common myth that all food abroad is exotic and weird. In reality, eating abroad is not like an episode of Bizarre Foods. There are so many things you can find within your comfort zone that are still different from foods you would find within the states. While fast food abroad is much better, try and expand beyond McNuggets and Whoppers while you have the chance. To help give you a sense of the different cuisine abroad, I have compiled a list of the most notable foods I have had from across the world.
1. Churros con Chocolate
Found at most cafes throughout Spain, this delectable confection is a must try. Churros in the United States do not compare to the far superior Spanish churro. Take it from a girl who swore against churros until traveling to Spain. Unlike the U.S. version, churros in Spain are most often not coated in sugar but are instead paired with a small cup of warm chocolate sauce. Depending on the cafe, the sauce can range in consistency from a hot chocolate-like liquid to a fondue-chocolate dip. If nothing else, let this be the one new thing you try abroad.
2. Pastel de Nata
This pastry is a staple of Portugal. Made of eggs and custard, Pastel de Nata is a small treat that can provide an easy fix for your sweet tooth. My favorite part about it is that is small and easy to take on the run. Whether you’re running late for the train or you want to take a snack on your river walk, this treat is a quick go-to at any time of the day.
3. Jamaican Fruit
I don’t know what it is about Jamaican fruit, but it is simply the best. It's juicy and sweeter than in any other place. While in Jamaica, I think I had fruit with almost every meal. I just never got tired of it. Being that Jamaica is a tropical island, there is also never a shortage of fruit to choose from. Buy fruit from a sidewalk stand and take it to the beach. I promise you won’t regret it.
4. Gelato, Gelato, Gelato
In Europe, you will find a gelato shop on almost every corner. I don’t know how Europeans are in such good shape. For those who may not know, gelato is similar to ice cream, but better. If you’re feeling venturous, try one of the more eccentric flavors like Ricotta Stregata which, as the name suggests, has Ricotta cheese in it. However, if you prefer the run-of-the-mill cookies and cream, they have that too. Whichever you choose, just do as the French do and eat tons of Gelato.
5. Port Wine
Fermented and made in the Duoro Valley in Northern Portugal, this wine isn’t for the faint-hearted. Port wine is a sweet red wine that is commonly used as a dessert wine in Portuguese culture. This wine is very rich and has a high alcohol content, requiring a certain palate to be able to enjoy it. Because it is specific to Portugal, you won’t find much like it anywhere else. So, even if you are not a huge wine-drinker, I urge you to step out of your comfort zone and try a glass.
6. Overproof Rum
The last on our list, but by far one of the most memorable, is overproof rum. A popular drink throughout Jamaica, overproof is single-handedly the strongest drink I have ever had. It demands an acquired taste and a strong stomach to get through a glass. It can be found in almost every mixed drink you order in Jamaica so buyer-beware. In all honesty, it is not that bad but it has an extremely high alcohol percentage of 63%, so you need to be careful of how much you consume.
As you can tell, you don’t need to eat exotic foods like Guniea Pigs, which happen to be a Peruvian delicacy, in order to try new foods abroad. In fact, most food that you’ll find while traveling is within a comfort zone and resemble foods you would normally find in the U.S. You might not like everything you try, but you that's okay! It is so easy to find food that you enjoy while trying the cuisine of your new destination, even for picky eaters. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent a lot of time searching high and low in stores across the world looking for a jar of peanut butter, but I also pushed myself to try new foods. Let yourself do the same!