In my last post, I discussed how it’s important to make connections to experience more authentic local travel experiences. Something I didn’t talk about is how you should eat like one too!
Travelling allows you to learn and experience another culture and a big component of that is food! Food brings people together on many different levels. If you think about it, it’s the ingredient in all our lives that binds us. It brings everyone together in a manner very few other activities can. Not to mention we literally need it to survive in our everyday lives!
I’ve mentioned in other blog posts about using resources like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Zomato (previously known as Urban Spoon), and other’s experiences can help you achieve a more stimulating travel experience as it allows you not only to plan ahead, but it also gives you some assurances that you are spending your time in a place that deserves it. However, when travelling, sometimes it is best to truly follow your nose.
In Italy, people often eat dinner later in the evening (usually after 8:00pm/ 20:00). They also do what they call a passeggiata (a leisurely walk or stroll), talk with friends and family and just enjoy the city. In Milan, I would do a walk basically every night after dinner or around dinner time which included walking in the city centre by the Duomo (cathedral), then through the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II (one of the world’s oldest shopping malls) and changing up the direction depending on my mood.
One night, I saw this very long line just outside of the Galleria in front of this panzerotti place I never really paid much attention to – a take-away restaurant called Luini. Cutting through the commotion were the satisfied looks on people’s faces while they were enjoying their food, as well as an intoxicatingly delicious aroma in the air. I had to see what all the commotion was about and swiftly looked at the menu and took my place in the line. It took a while, but it was worth it! Delicious, freshly made (it’s always so busy there so there’s no time for the food to sit) panzerotti that you can get baked or fried in a variety of ingredients. Bellisimo!
Right next door is also a great place to wash your panzerotti down with gelato, called Cioccolati Italiani, but I will talk more about this fabulous place in a future blog post!
Similarly, in everyday life, often the most memorable eating experiences involve enjoying food from local restaurants. These restaurants provide unique menu items unavailable elsewhere which makes us feel closer to the communities we either live in or are visiting by supporting local businesses and enjoying local ingredients. The ‘support local’ phenomenon here in North America can easily be transferred to our travel experiences by similarly enjoying local food institutions, like Luini in Milan!
While my experience about just stumbling upon a well known local spot for the Milanese enhanced my travel experience, this doesn’t mean each spot we find will be so memorable.
There was this other time, my boyfriend and I did a passeggiata in Milan and saw this restaurant called Puglia in Brera. It looked lively, had a nice ambience, and the menu was handwritten on a chalkboard outside and looked great. Unfortunately, we had already eaten dinner so we planned to go back and try it another night. Another night came and we decided to go!
We were the first and only people there, even after we left at 10:00pm. A stark difference from the night we stumbled upon it before and were looking forward to it! We ordered prix fix menus of Puglian food (a type of cuisine from a particular region of Southern Italy) figuring we would be able to get a variety of different types of Puglian dishes. I don’t plan on going back because the overall experience was unfortunately, one I would not like to repeat and here’s why…while it looked good, the food was unappetizing.
After our primi piatti (first plate) and our secondi piatta (second plate) which even though it was explained to be different, it was actually the same just a slightly bigger portion. After this, we thought about leaving, but we didn’t want to be rude and thought, maybe it will get better the next couple of courses? We were wrong, but this is just part of the experience of living like a local.
Enjoying local authentic food means you might also stumble upon a few rough stones when searching for that diamond in the rough. These things happen in everyday life and we can’t always plan for them. What we can plan for is always looking on the brighter side of things and appreciating each moment and enjoy each experience like a local and do as they do.
Do you have an interesting dining experience or do you have a travel experience you would like to share? Don’t forget to like, comment, and share if you found this post helpful – I post a new blog post every Sunday!
Ciao for now,