Here's Exactly How To Eat Like A Local Around The World
Everyone knows that the best part of traveling is the food.
Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed
Don’t use chopsticks in Thailand—unless you’re eating soup…
“Travelers often think that Thai people use chopsticks for everything,” The Food Traveler’s Handbook author and Legal Nomads blogger Jodi Ettenberg tells BuzzFeed Life. “If you see chopsticks at a street stall, it just means that they’re serving soup. For noodle dishes and most rice dishes, you use a fork and a spoon, and for Isaan (northern Thai food, like sticky rice and somtum papaya salad), you use your hands.”
And don’t leave Thailand without trying Nam Tok Moo.
“Nam Tok Moo is a beautiful warm salad with slices of pork, toasted rice powder, fish sauce, chillies, onions and more,” says Ettenberg. “It’s absolutely delicious with a basket of sticky rice to mop up the last drops.”
Get a bento box in a Japanese train station.
Jodi Ettenberg / Via legalnomads.smugmug.com
“You can find insane bento boxes just as you’re getting on the trains—they are often sold at kiosks on the platform itself,” Ettenberg says. “While travelling through the country, businessmen would quietly pull out their bento boxes and munch away as the bullet train sped on.”
Put your elbows on the table in Russia.
“In Russia, it’s seen as suspicious to put your hands under the table,” Ettenberg says. “Always put your wrists on the edge of the table (not in your lap) while eating.”
Have a cornetto and a cappuccino for breakfast in Italy…
“Convinced that milk after a meal is bad for digestion, mornings are the only time Italians will drink cappuccino, but only if they can sit and relax,” travel expert and co-founder of Better Way To Italy Sarah Walton tells BuzzFeed Life. “If they’re in a hurry, Italians will opt for an espresso instead.” As for the brioche-like cornetto, some people will eat it plain and others will layer on spreads like jam, cream, or Nutella.
And don’t ask for oil to dip your bread during dinner…
“Bread won’t be served with oil and balsamic vinegar (unless the restaurant caters to Americans),” says Walton. “Also, bread is not to be eaten with pasta. It’s used to ‘fare la scarpetta’ or ‘make a little shoe’, to clean the plate of sauce.”
And don’t expect dishes to come out all at once.
“Pasta is served before meat and vegetables, so you may receive your food before your companion if they only ordered meat dishes,” Walton says. “Another pro tip: Cheese is never added to a pasta dish that includes fish.”
Don’t put your chopsticks vertically downward into a bowl while eating in Asian countries.
Especially if you’re eating a bowl of rice. “This is because it’s the way people memorialize the dead, putting incense straight into bowls,” says Ettenberg. “The same goes for passing food with your chopsticks to someone else.” After cremation, remains can be passed in this way between members of the family.
Eat only with your right hand in India.
“In India—and many countries of the Middle East—it’s inappropriate to use your left hand for eating, especially when many meals include using bread to mop up your food,” Ettenberg says. “The left hand in those countries is often associated with bathroom activities.”
Order bun rieu in Vietnam.
“It’s a crab and tomato broth soup with pork and crab meatballs, steamed crab paste, tofu, noodles, and so much more,” says Ettenberg.
Eat menemen during a weekend brunch in Turkey…
“This hot dish involves baked eggs, tomatoes, and vegetables—and it tends to be a weekend treat,” BuzzFeed UK lifestyle staff writer (who taught English and worked as an au pair in Turkey) Chelsey Pippin says. “And you always have Turkish cay tea with breakfast—coffee is less traditional in the morning.”
And definitely drink Turkish salep.
“Salep is made from orchids and—since Turkey does not export their orchids—the drink is literally only available in the country,” Pippin says. “It’s very sweet, thick, and kind of like a cloudier hot chocolate.”
Start your day with a tartine in France…
“A French breakfast includes a pastry, a tartine (half of a baguette, slipt lengthwise with butter and jam), with orange juice and coffee,” travel expert and Wonderfilled magazine editor-in-chief Kelley Engelbrecht tells BuzzFeed Life.
And end your day with the local aperitif and digestif.
“Liqueurs differ from region to region in France,” Engelbrecht says. “In La Rochelle—where I lived—the typical digestif is cognac.” Try the local drink to get a taste of history.
Get dinner at a quilo in Brazil…
“Quilos are popular buffet restaurants where you pay for the weight of your plate,” says BuzzFeed staff writer and Brazilian native, Clarissa Passos.
And snack on pastel de feira.
“Pastel de feira is a deep-fried dough that’s filled with cheese, vegetables, meat and many other flavors,” says Passos. “You can buy them at most farmer’s street markets.”
Stuff yourself with fairy bread in Australia.
Fairy bread is the magical combination of white bread + plenty of butter + sprinkles. It’s a common kid’s snack, but most people never grow out of it.