Are you a picky eater? I am. Well, truthfully I’m a vegetarian. And I’m gluten- and lactose- intolerant. So I eat a lot of salads. ALOT of salads. And because of my eating habits I’ve come to realize exactly how much food plays in our society. All major occasions in life centre around or cause large feasts.
The first time I took a flight that served inflight meals, I couldn’t eat anything. I hadn’t notified the airline about my food preferences and there was nothing on that little tray that I could eat. Not even the inflight pretzels. As I’ve traveled I’ve learned some tips and tricks for being able to eat wherever I am:
- Pack granola bars – and stock up when available. They’re small enough to fit in your bags and most people can find a granola bar they like. Plus, they’re available almost everywhere.
- Hit a grocery store wherever you land and eat in your hotel room/hostel. It’ll save you money and help avoid embarrassing situations at local eateries.
- Juice! Everyplace has juice; it can fill you up when food isn’t available and offers nutrients to keep you going.
- Pre-book meals on planes – most airlines offer a variety of meal options for religious reasons and allergies. If you don’t like green beans or broccoli, tell them it’s an allergy – they won’t question a customer.
- I’ve been told that anything deep fried will taste good. If you don’t like certain meats or seafood but must eat, try to get it deep fried.
In North America, we have the luxury of eating what we want when we want and most of us don’t think twice of composting/trashing whatever we don’t want. There are many places in the world where food is in short supply and it’s not wasted. Part of experiencing the culture of a country will involve food, be it at a feast or party or in someone’s home, and as such, you’ll find yourself in many situations when you’re offered food that you really don’t want to eat. If you refuse the food, you risk disrespecting your hosts; if you eat it, you’ll feel physically sick. Here are some tips to help you get through the sticky situations without hurting the feeling of your hosts:
- Let everyone think you’re a vegetarian ahead of time, even if you’re not. That worked for a friend of mine when presented with a Balut Egg (fertilized duck embryo) in SE Asia.
- Chew as little as possible. Slice the item thinly on your plate and try to get it down without chewing or tasting it too much.
- Drink water after each bite. You can pretend to be dehydrated if your hosts question why you’re going through gallons of water.
- Don’t finish everything on your plate; leave a little piece of something. If you’ve finished everything, they might get you seconds without asking out of courtesy.
In a perfect world, we picky eaters wouldn’t have to feel embarrassed or worry about these situations. Unfortunately, the world’s not perfect and we have to learn to adapt in order to eat. I hope these tips will help you as they’ve helped me. I seriously lived on granola bars the entire time I was in Cuba. That and glorious Cuban coffee.