With many trips being canceled or rescheduled due to the rising numbers of COVID-19, restrictions on travel, and social distancing measures, my traveling heart is aching for a long overdue trip. Although I have no current plans to go anywhere, I am daydreaming of the day that it will be safe to explore new cities, countries, and cultures. It was during one of these daydreams that I realized in the meantime I could travel the world in my kitchen! With no surprise, my favorite activity during a trip is to eat. Why not learn more about different cultures and make their authentic recipes in my own home?
Here are my suggestions on how to travel the world through your kitchen:
- Pick a destination.
If you are planning this with your family, take turns letting someone pick the destination. This can be a city, state, country or region. Each time, you can travel to a different location and you can travel as often as you’d like.
- Do your research and learn about the place that you picked.
What are some interesting facts, historical points, and influences for the foods they eat? What is the agriculture like? What beliefs or customs does the culture follow?
- Pick out a couple of recipes to make.
If this is a family activity, work together to include others in the preparation of the food. Perhaps for Italy you decide to make homemade pasta! Whatever you decide, I encourage you to include something unique or a food item you haven’t tried before. Do not be afraid to experiment! I also encourage you to look at the reviews listed with the recipes and the source of the recipe as these will be helpful when determining the quality, deliciousness, and authenticity of the recipe.
- Create a shopping list and go shopping.
Take inventory of what you have and what supplies you may still need. Having a list will help you to make sure you get all the items you need. Most stores even have the option for pick-up or delivery, so you have a few options.
- Get Cooking!
To help with inspiration while I cook, I like to put on some music that’s common in the chosen region or country—it adds to the experience. Sometimes, a recipe involves a technique you might not be familiar with. If this arises, do not get discouraged! We live in a world of technology where many people have shared tips or videos to help teach or explain how to do something. For example, I once used a video to teach me how to properly fold a tamale.
- Eat and Enjoy!
Set the mood to eat your delicious food. You can make this as extravagant or casual as you would like. You can use your research to learn about etiquette for the culture. Also lead a discussion with your family about what was learned about the place “traveled”.
“You have to taste a culture to understand it.”- Deborah Cater.
We have many different and beautiful cultures in our country and the world. May your travels serve as chance to learn about and taste a new place, food, tradition and community.
Devin Brittain is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist in the state of Louisiana. Born and raised in California, Devin obtained her Bachelors of Science in Food and Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in Dietetics and Food Administration from California State University, Fresno. She then moved to Louisiana and completed her Dietetic Internship at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Devin is currently the Outpatient Dietitian for the Cancer Center at West Jefferson Medical Center where she assists patients and teaches healthy cooking classes. She is serving on the board for the New Orleans Dietetic Association where she strongly advocates for the dietetic profession and the health of her community. In her free time, Devin enjoys attending festivals, reading, developing recipes, dancing, and cheering on the Saints! She is passionate about utilizing her food and nutrition knowledge to benefit others and believes in finding innovative ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle that works for each individual.