Discovering unique travel food from foreign countries you’ve never dreamed possible is half the fun of traveling. After diving into food classes and local markets, you may miss that favorite new dish when you’re back on familiar soil. What better way to take a trip down travel memory lane than recreating that dish once you’re back home?
Follow our tips outlined below for travel food and you can take your taste buds on vacation again and again — right from the comfort of your own kitchen.
Start your research while you’re still traveling
The most important part of recreating travel flavors at home is to start your investigative journey whilst you’re still actually traveling. Take cooking classes, source authentic recipes, search for local English-written cookbooks and bring home the most essential ingredients, especially if you’ve never heard of them before. Everything back home will be a lot easier to source if you have detailed information and actual tangible ingredients to compare, as well as first-hand experience on how a dish is prepared. Locals the world over are always more than happy to enlighten you – and your taste buds – by helping you source out any travel food recipe or particular ingredient you’ve fallen in love with.
How to find a local supplier: start local
Once you’re home and your precious supply of exotic spices is dwindling, it’s time to find a local supplier. First of all, it’s worth noting that just because an ingredient is foreign to you, it doesn’t mean you won’t find it at your local grocer’s. Our own local supermarkets can be full of surprises, especially as ethnic cuisines gain in popularity. Just a few years ago, you’d have to buy a return ticket to Jordan to restock your sumac supply but, nowadays, sumac is easily found alongside dried rosemary, thyme and basil at most supermarkets. So start with your local and most obvious choice first, before moving to dedicated exotic spice stores and specialty food stores nearby, which are only a Google search away.
Hone in on the foreign community closest to you
Your own wonderfully multi-cultural country is possibly a hub of delectable concoctions, with entire suburbs renowned for hosting specific communities, be they Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican or Malay. Whatever dish you wish to recreate at home, start with its corresponding community that’s closest to you. Or, if one can’t be found, a restaurant which specializes in the desired cuisine. Go straight to the source and ask locals in the know (ie. restaurant owners and chefs) where they buy their supplies and the best dedicated grocery store can be found.
Find alternative travel food ingredients
Ginger is the best substitute for Cambodian galangal and, if for some reason you can’t find Moroccan ras el-hanout spice at your local store, you can easily make your own by grinding together coriander seeds, cumin, chilli, cinnamon, paprika, cardamom, ginger and turmeric. For just about every exotic ingredient you discover on your travels, you will find either a substitute back home or, better still, a recipe to make your own. So get creative with your Google search and become the resourceful chef you always knew you could be.
Order ethnic spices and pastes online
When all else fails and you really couldn’t possibly recreate your travel flavor at home without a teaspoon of whatsitnot, then look for it online. There’s a ton of amazing online spice stores, some offering over 450 hard-to-find spices hailing from every corner of the globe. From SpiceJungle to SpicesInc and a head-spinning array of Amazon online stores, you could easily fill your pantry with all sorts of incredible spices and flavors, without ever leaving the comforts of home.
There’s no better way to relive an unforgettable journey – and to cure the post-holiday blues – than by recreating travel flavors at home. Because even if you can’t pack your bags and travel the world at a whim…it doesn’t mean your taste buds can’t! So enjoy your culinary journey and continue the feasting long after the vacation has ended with these handy recreation hacks.