As I zip around my house packing for a trip to Bali, via Japan; then back to Cali, south to Los Angeles, and onward to Tulum, Mexico followed by Burning man…I thought this might be an appropriate time to discuss being an international Sensual Foodist.
Last week, we ran though a concise list of the best food to pack for travel. The items I mentioned will, of course, only make it halfway through an international flight. Once we arrive, we’re on a mission, called organic veg for real.
Ms. Mckenna is also a Sensual Foodist, and thus, I am happy that she’s has these simple 5 tips to keep in mind while globe trotting.
5 Lessons for International Sensual Foodists | by: Mckenna Toston
Early last year, upon the suggestion of a complete stranger, I took a spontaneous trip to India. For three months, I traveled around the subcontinent with none other than me, myself, and I.
Aside from learning that there are competent bum-wiping methods besides toilet paper (read: ‘hand’), and that stray dogs are awesome but not always friendly, I also learned how to maintain healthy eating habits while in an unfamiliar land. This skill proved to be my most valuable talent while enjoying my three-months abroad. Eating healthy is what kept me grounded—and sane—while exploring India.
As a person who is sensitive to everything I put in my body, I have to be careful about what I consume. What I eat affects my mood and energy levels, so I can’t just throw anything in my mouth and call it a meal. Generally, my diet consists of whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts (okay, I leave room for occasional ice cream and pizza!). And while eating healthy is easy at home, it proved to be a serious challenge in India.
Frankly, if you’ve ever had Indian food in California, you have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s a radically different thing. Yeah, I like naan, too. It’s doughy and delicious, and goes great with a side of mild Indian curry. But naan was a rare breed of Indian bread, and never once did I come across a curry that didn’t leave me tearing and reaching for water with it’s irresistible spice. Everything I thought I knew about Indian food went out the window! Here’s what I learned:
Lesson one: Maintaining a vegetarian diet is super easy in India. For about six years, I’ve been a strict vegetarian, and was beyond thankful when I realized that the predominate religions of India; Hindu and Muslim, advocate vegetarianism. Every menu had a vegetarian section that usually had more options than the meat sections. Victory!
Lesson two: Not all vegetables were created equal. Most of the dishes I ordered had an abundance of veggies, but sometimes they were excessively salty or overcooked. I’ve encountered this in restaurants at home, too. It’s a common way to cook veggies, but is, in my opinion, stripping the food of it’s natural taste and nutrition. An easy way to avoid restaurants who employ this soggy and salty method is to take a look at the plates already served to tables. If veggies don’t look vibrant with color and shape, than skip that joint and go somewhere else.
Lesson three: Fruit is your friend–your very best friend. I can’t stress enough how much eating fresh fruit saved me while traveling. On a hot day I’d grab a handful of oranges, some pineapple, papaya or grapes and feel refreshed and rejuvenated. In addition to replenishing your system of vitamins and nutrients, fruit also hydrates you, which is easy to forget when you’re constantly on the move. When you see them, load up. You can never have too much fruit in your travel pack.
Lesson four: Street food is delicious, but might leave you with a bellyache–or worse. I learned this quickly. The sanitation methods in India are different from here, which isn’t usually a problem because Indians are used to the bacteria. However, foreigners aren’t, and can get sick from under cooked food or food made in unsanitary conditions. If you want to avoid bellyaches, diarrhea and in some cases vomiting, then you should also avoid food being sold on the street or somewhere that looks like it might need a good scrubbing.
Lesson Five: Enjoy the specialties. If you’re staying on your game everyday, then certainly take the opportunity to indulge (ie. when in Rome). For me, it was hot Chai tea being served on every street corner. Sure, it’s doused in sugar and full of caffeine–but, hey! It’s a part of Indian culture, and I wanted to experience experience every aspect of the culture that I could. Of course, I didn’t grab a Chai every time it crossed my path, I indulged nonetheless and enjoyed every moment of it. International travel is the time to unleash your inner sensual foodist, and ignite the senses, without a doubt.
Of everything I learned, the most valuable lesson came when I returned home: We are incredibly lucky to have access to fresh, organic and local foods. From local co-ops and Whole Foods to the Farmer’s Market, my choices for where to shop are abundant– and I have access to everything I love! This is something I am grateful for.
Just an extra fun practice: Will you be globe trotting as a duo? Traveling with a lover means enjoying food together. Try finding a new spice, fruit or veggie each day abroad and share it with one another. Engage all of the senses, and let yourself fully embrace the plethora of new exotic flavors available to you.
What are you grateful for in the world of food? Let us know in the comments section below. Have you had a pleasurable sensual food experience abroad? Share your story! If this article was helpful to you, be sure to share it with friends who may be going on an international adventure.