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The Taste of Travel – Memories of Food

by Mary Chong
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Food glorious food!…It always brings back tasty travel memories for me.

We eat to survive, we eat to have fun, we eat to socialize and enjoy life, we even eat to forget…

But, I eat to remember!

With every bite, I remember whom I was with (usually my hubby), the place, the time, the weather and the occasion.

Taste of Travel

The Taste of Egg Tarts

Egg tarts remind me of Hong Kong and the tarts fresh and still warm from the oven. There was no shortage of bakeries near our hotel on Nathan Road. We would buy them daily and eating just one was never enough. They were so hard to resist because you could buy them from the street through a glass pass through – you didn’t even have to step inside the shop to complete the transaction.

(technically, that’s a coconut bun I’m eating…the egg tarts I was eating never quite lasted long enough for me to snap a photo!)

Check out this food tour in Hong Kong.

Taste of Travel

The Taste of Pad Thai

Pad Thai reminds me of Bangkok probably because we ate it every single day for 7 days straight. It didn’t matter whether we were in a restaurant or even at Chatuchak Weekend Market (shown here), we would always order the same thing. We never got tired of it though. Funny thing I remember is that no matter what form of Pad Thai – shrimp, tofu, beef – that we ordered we were always served chicken for some reason!

(Note: the ubiquitous ever appearing toilet paper dispenser on the table)

Taste of Travel

The Taste of Pizza

Pizza reminds me of Venice. It was pouring rain. We were doing back-to-back cruises and we left our rain gear back on board the cruise ship. As we were walking through the streets shivering from the cold drizzle we saw this huge crowd outside the pizzeria. With a crowd like this trying to buy a slice of pizza we just knew it had to taste great. The aroma drifting out the open windows was so enticing…We looked at each other and had to get in on the action!


The Taste of Empanadas

Empanadas remind me of San Juan. Latin music played on a sound system blaring in Plaza de Colon, cobblestone streets and my favorite bench in Old San Juan. I have a soft spot in my heart for Empanadas. No trip to San Juan is complete without 1 (or 2) empanandas!

The Taste of Meat Patties

Meat patties remind me of the 2 weeks we spent with our best friends on the island of Tortola, British Virgin Islands. It was our first big trip anywhere as a couple and our first trip travelling with other people. We would walk along the main street and stop into Maria’s Bakery and buy a different flavour of patty each time we passed by the shop. We’ve been back a few times since and Maria’s is long gone but the memory is still fresh in my mind.

I’d include a photo of it but…I wasn’t a very Calculated Traveller back then and my camera was lost (stolen?) somewhere between the airport in BVI and home. Yes, you read correctly – on the way HOME. This was back before digital cameras and of course, I had the rolls of film in the camera case with the camera.

Taste of Travel

The Taste of Barbecue

Barbecue reminds me of Tennessee. We spent a week in Nashville and Memphis on a quest to see the King -> Elvis and experience the birthplace of soul, R&B and country music. Nashville and Memphis were a real surprise to us because we really aren’t Country music fans but we had the best time!

Now, It doesn’t matter if I’m eating ribs, beef brisket or pulled pork…I always think of Tennessee.

Taste of TravelWhenever I have the urge to go on a trip and I can’t take the time off work (or afford the cash) I head off to my favourite eatery and order something exotic! I’m lucky because living in big city like Toronto we have such a diverse population that you can find every kind of exotic food to tempt and tease your taste buds.

It doesn’t matter if it is especially good or if it tastes even remotely close to the “real” thing. Because, nothing really compares to that first bite, that first taste when that memory got etched into that big scrapbook in your brain.

Here’s my lunch a few weeks ago of Oxtail, rice/peas and a cold bottle of Ting.

The weather was unseasonably warm and the sun was bright and I just had a craving for the Caribbean…

Do you have a specific food that takes you back in time to a travel memory? I’d love to hear about it!

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Rachael May 19, 2013 - 7:14 pm

Horray! Great post, I love the stories that come out of food!

Mary Chong May 19, 2013 - 9:04 pm

So do I…I could write posts and posts about food

Teresa May 15, 2013 - 8:05 pm

Thanks for this great post showing homage to one of my favorite things in life: FOOD! People used to make fun of me for taking pictures of every meal when traveling, but I explain to them that the food is an essential part of my experience and a memory I want a picture of. Now it seems to be more and more common to see people at restaurants taking pics before they dig in :-) Great article proving my theory!

Mary Chong May 15, 2013 - 9:05 pm

Thanks Teresa…trust me there are a whole lot more photos of me eating. Just the other day not only did I take photos of my meal but also the meals of the other people at our table. On one cruise (sitting with strangers) I apologized and started taking photos of my meal….which caused everyone else to join in. One woman said that she was too embarrassed to do it previously and regrets not starting on day 1. Carpe Diem I say – seize the day!

noel May 13, 2013 - 12:13 pm

Aloha Mary,

great post, i agree certain foods take me to a place instantly, the pesto pasta in Liguria, Italy, the somen noodles in Nikko, Japan. Its one of the best pleasures of traveling and discovering the local cuisine.

Thanks for sharing. btw, I’ll be sending an email to ask you something else in private.

Martin May 13, 2013 - 11:57 am

I know what you mean about food, Mary. The best breakfast I’ve ever had (away from home, of course) was in Napa, California. I drove there early in the morning to do some shooting and found a little restaurant off the main street. The best Chorizo sausages and scrambled eggs ever! Now I’m hungry.

Heather H May 13, 2013 - 9:03 am

Great article, Mary!
I’m usually quite conservative in my food choices, especially when travelling. I like to know exactly what it is I’m putting into my mouth, and my low tolerance for spicy and hot food is restrictive. However, over the years, thanks to the range of ethnic backgrounds of my friends, I’ve been introduced to Indian, Caribbean/Trinidadian, Thai, Vietnamese, and (of course) Chinese foods. But my favourite food is one I have all the time when I’m in the northeast of England: the Cornish pasty (rhymes with “Asti”). I could eat those things all day long. However, all that pastry would quickly add on the inches around my middle, so I try to limit myself. The last time we were visiting in England, we walked 45 min to a Gregg’s just to get a pasty. It was delicious!


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