Confessions of a Traveling Picky Eater - MapNomads
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Traveling Picky Eater

Confessions of a Traveling Picky Eater

For most, one of the many perks of traveling is trying amazing dishes from all over the world. Some people travel to sample cuisines so different from what they’re used to that it blows their mind. They yearn to understand the people of the places they visit by tasting what they eat. But what happens when you love traveling but you’re a picky eater like myself? How do you immerse in the culture if only the smell of their gastronomy makes you sick? How do you survive?

In reality, that’s exactly what you do. You survive.

Traveling Picky Eater

Little India Market Singapore

We’ve been in Thailand for almost two months now and there was actually a point when I said to myself that it was time to leave.

To all of you who like everything, you must think that I’m overreacting, that I shouldn’t complain about food when I have the opportunity to be in a place like Thailand. And I know you’re right! But try to imagine finding only curry after getting food poisoning  and see if you wouldn’t crave, like me, something that tastes like home.

Traveling Picky Eater

Massaman Curry with rice in Irie, Koh Lanta

I always try new things. Everyone who knows me can testify in my behalf. It’s just that most of the time, I simply can’t eat them.

Traveling Picky Eater

Rows of food I definitely don’t eat at the food court of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore.

Traveling Picky Eater

High Tea at the Woo Bar in the W Hotel, Sentosa Island

I’ve said it over and over again but the hardest thing for me about being so far from Mexico (besides missing my family and friends) is being away from the food. I miss it so much!

Traveling Picky Eater

PAR-A-DISE in Tepoz, Mexico

Traveling Picky Eater

A fruit stand-aka a picky eater’s paradise in Hat Kata, Phuket

The problem is not just Thai food though. When we lived in Spain for a year, I had the same exact problem. It would be easier, in fact, to list the things that I do eat, than those I don’t.

So you can imagine the hard time I have while traveling, especially given how I like to take care of my body. It’s sometimes frustrating thinking I’m not eating what I should and that it’s impossible to find what my body needs.

Traveling Picky Eater

My breakfast everyday for the two weeks we stayed in Koh Tao. So. Effing. Good.

The US prides itself on being culturally diverse in terms of food: Indian, Japanese, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese… whatever you’re craving, they’ve got it. So when I lived there for three years I slowly discovered more and more things that I actually liked. I opened up to the possibility of becoming one of those people (like Isaac, practically my entire family, and specially my mom-who was a Chef) who not only likes everything, but also relishes on the experience of exploding flavors in their mouth. I was proud of myself because my palate was evolving. Or so I thought…

Traveling Picky Eater

Veggie Patty at Fitness Cafe, Koh Tao. I was so happy when we found this place. Finally healthy, vegetarian options in Thailand!

I liked (some) Asian food! Full disclosure, though, I hadn’t actually been in Asia for the past nine years. Imagine my surprise when we finally make it to Asia and realize, to my dismay, that just like Mexican food, if it’s outside the country of origin, it will never be truly authentic, and that what I’d been eating all this time was actually a version aimed to please palates like mine. So it dawned on me that although I do enjoy eating more stuff than I ever did in my life, when abroad I’ll still stick to white rice…for now.

Traveling Picky Eater

A Pad Thai in Lym’s, Koh Lanta where they could accommodate me and prepared it without egg. Score!

Traveling Picky Eater

A perfect cup of Chai Latte in Rye, Australia. The Croque Monsieur was for Isaac.

The good thing is that I don’t have to break open the piggy bank when traveling. My bucket list doesn’t include a single food-related experience. The idea of going to a Michelin-star restaurant sends me running the other way and, between lobster and rice, I’ll always choose rice.

Traveling Picky Eater

Skinny Limits Food Truck, Austin, USA. Loved finding this gem on our trip to Austin.

I’m pretty fed up of rice at this point, and I foresee lots and lots more in my future. But you know what? It’s okay. After our time in Thailand I can now tolerate Massaman Curry, Tom Yom, and papaya salad. It’s way more than I could say when we first got here. And who knows? I could eventually become a foodie who enjoys eating local food and who even travels with that sole purpose in mind. Though if I were you, I wouldn’t bet any money on it.

Traveling Picky Eater

Give me smoothies with fresh fruit and non-dairy milk and I’m yours! Smoothie heaven at Irie, Koh Lanta

So until that day comes, I’ll be content with experiencing new places through adventure and my four senses (we’ve established that I’ll leave taste out of the equation), and in my own way.

Traveling Picky Eater

We’re heading to Japan now and I’m looking forward to eating sushi, udon noodles, and tempura. Only thing is, I usually don’t eat anything that comes from the sea. In the US it’s easy to find Japanese restaurants that can accommodate my pickiness. I suspect it’s not gonna be as easy in Japan. But when you love traveling as much as I do, you suck it up, you get used to it, and everything you learn, see, and live, more than makes up for the frustrating meal times.

In other words, to soak up the culture of a place I’d rather practice Muay Thai than eat Pad Thai.

1Comment
  • Mexican Food 101 -
    Posted at 16:30h, 03 October Reply

    […] or another, we always end up talking about food. This is followed by me loudly expressing how much I miss Mexican food and that it’s really hard for me to be away from it when traveling. Some people, in turn, look at […]

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