I have had the previledge of touring many cities across the America and abroad and the question is always, how do you experience a place. If you’re like most people, you would like to do it all. Now that’s possible on an unlimited budget and time, which most of us don’t have. Some people opt to visit museums, political offices, Capital buildings, etc. Others pay for expensive souvenirs or city tours. For me, I keep it simple by doing one thing only; I eat.
When it comes to traveling, I don’t feel welcome unless I’m fed. There’s nothing more amusing than to be able to eat the best local food in any geography. Nothing tells the history and culture of a place than the food. Whenever I travel, I make my own version of Anthony Bourdain show. Show me where the good ‘eats’ are and I know a city. It’s cheap and will leave me satisfied….usually. This however, can be ruined by the ever-expanding food chains across the world. There’s nothing worse than visiting Rome or Beijing and having to eat McDonald’s. What a nightmare.
Last summer I took a road trip across the US from Michigan to Houston. I visited some of the most peculiar restaurants from the outskirts of Memphis, Jackson, New Orleans, and St. Louis and had the best bbq of my life. I learnt pretty quickly that it’s not the most polished restaurant in the middle of the business district that offers the better food, but rather the more rugged place in the outskirts of town. If you’ve seen the early seasons of ‘house of cards’ where the main character frequently eats from a bbq joint in the ghetto, then you know what I mean. The places I ate from during my trip may not have looked the best, but sure had good food.
I don’t always need a history lesson from a tour guide when I’m in your city. I’m probably not listening anyway. Show me where the good food is and where the good people are, and I will probably remember your city forever.