Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Few things compare to the feeling of falling in love with a dish upon trying it for the first time. But not everyone is naturally adventurous with their appetite, and some people have to approach new dishes and cuisines from a place of greater caution due to their dietary requirements.
If either is the case for you, then you may be wondering how you can broaden your gustatory horizons without compromising your health, going against your diet, or simply having a bad experience with foods that are unfamiliar to you. To that end, here are five tips that will help a conservative eater explore new foods and cuisines.
Find Out Which Dishes Support Your Diet and Religious Obligations
If you can’t eat certain foods because of an allergy, an underlying medical condition, or your religious or personal beliefs, it follows that you have to narrow down the scope of new dishes you can try. It will help for you to do some preliminary research about what ingredients are commonly used in foreign cuisine, plus whether the establishment you want to visit can switch out ingredients that you can’t eat.
You can search online to see whether a foreign dish can be prepared without meat or dairy products if you’re a vegan. Religious sources like the Muslim Pro app will help you find out whether a dish you want to try is halal or not. Finally, it will also be a good idea to get the advice of someone who’s familiar with the cuisine or has eaten food from a restaurant you’re thinking of trying. Finding out in advance whether you can eat a dish or whether you can have it modified to suit your needs will appease a lot of the anxiety you may have about trying new food.
Try a New Offering from a Food Establishment You Already Like
Want a low-risk option for trying something new? A good way to do so is to order a new dish from a food establishment you already patronize. Since the food comes from the same kitchen and is prepared with standards that you already trust, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll enjoy what you order.
It’s an even better idea to sample a new dish when it’s being offered at an introductory price or a significant discount. That way, you’ll avoid buyer’s remorse if you don’t like the dish as much as you thought you would.
Share Meals with Friends Who Hail from Other Countries and Cultures
People who grew up eating a certain cuisine may be the best judges of which dishes are best for beginners to try first. They may also know which establishments serve the tastiest food, or they may even know how to prepare gustatory delights from that cuisine themselves.
Do you have friends who hail from another country or culture whose food you want to try? If so, make time to eat out together or invite them over for a potluck in your home. Inform them ahead of time about what you can and can’t eat, and partake of the dishes they choose for you.
If you find yourself liking a dish, be sure to thank your friends for introducing it to you. You can also ask them to tell you more about the dish’s history, about any interesting variations on how it’s prepared, or whether they have a fond childhood memory of it. Doing so will transform the simple meal into a priceless opportunity to bond with your friends and get to know their home cultures.
Look for Online Content on How to Prepare New Dishes
The digital world has made it easy to learn about other cuisines in great detail, even if they’re from far away, in places you’ve never seen. For those who love to cook as well as eat, it will be a fun exercise to look for online content on how to prepare foreign dishes.
Browse video tutorials for step-by-step instructions or check the Muslim Pro app Twitter for halal recipe recommendations. Save the recipes you like and set aside time to cook them in your kitchen. You might end up surprising yourself in a good way and find new staples for your weekly menu of home-cooked food.
Do Some Prep Before Going on a Food Crawl in Another Country
Lastly, if you get the opportunity to travel to another country, do some prep work that will ensure you a pleasant dining experience throughout your trip. Learn basic phrases in the language spoken in the country, and find ways to tell the people serving your food that you can’t eat certain dishes for health-related, religious, or personal reasons. It would be wise to download a language translation app or to print food allergy cards to show servers and food sellers.
When you’re headed to a foreign destination, remember to be open-minded, polite, and observant of local customs and traditions that concern food. Honour the hospitality extended to you in that country and do your best to be a good guest.
Slowly stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new dishes and cuisines will be rewarding not only for your stomach, but also for your soul. What foreign cuisine are you raring to try, and which dishes tickle your fancy?