Discovering New Cultures One Bite at a Time

by Kristen Sarah
Man eating a camel burger

The best way to experience a new culture, is to try the local cuisine. The world is filled with so many flavours and textures that will send your taste buds into overdrive.  People around the world also have different customs for eating and preparing food.  Food a way of celebrating both life and death, as well as various holidays around the world. It’s a way for people to welcome guests into their community or home, and a way to showcase power and wealth for many. Food is a big part in defining a culture, so as a traveller it is important to embrace this. Sometimes this means eating something that is considered bizarre to us in North America.

Here are 4 of the most memorable dishes I’ve had while travelling abroad, and recommend giving a try when you have the chance:


cuy in Peru1)      Guinea Pig in Peru

While Guinea Pigs may be beloved pets in Canada, they definitely are not in Peru.  Instead, they are an important source of protein and a traditional Peruvian dish.  Guinea Pig, also called “cuy” in Peru, is typically served roasted or fried, with corn, rice and potatoes on the side.  Eating cuy dates back to the pre-colonial times when Jesus and his disciples are said to have enjoyed this Peruvian dish.  In fact, there is a famous religious painting in the cathedral in Cusco showing just that!  During my travels in Peru, I have to say that this was one of the best dishes I tried.


2)      Pigeon Pastilla

Pastilla is a classic Moroccan dish made up of shredded chicken or fish but traditionally with fledging pigeons. The pie combines the meat of the pigeon with layers of crispy crepe like dough, layers of toasted and ground almonds, cinnamon and sugar.   This delicious treat is generally served as a starter at the beginning of a meal.  Pigeon Pastilla is one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever had and I would highly suggest giving it a try when you visit Morocco.


3)      Insects in Thailand

Eating bugs in Thailand

Most foreigners who travel to Thailand return with a story about that one night they ate insects. It’s one of the most common Thailand stories I hear, and a must experience for every traveller.  Insects are an excellent source of protein and make a tasty midnight snack.  If you’re strolling around Khao San Road in Bangkok at night, you are most likely to see a cart being pushed around with a variety of insects ranging from giant grasshoppers to scorpions.  The people of north-east Thailand began eating insects as a source of protein for some time now as crops are hard to grow.  The north-east is the poorest part of Thailand and since raising cattle was out of the question and insects are easy to catch, this became a common snack.  What started out in the north-east has now widespread throughout the country.  If you’re in Thailand, grab a beer and a plate of insects and indulge. You’ll be surprised at how tasty they are.


4)    Bee Larva in Indonesia

You know those black and yellow buzzing insects that many people tend to run from?  Well, in Indonesia, bee larvae is eaten as a companion to rice after being wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. As much as I would love to say I enjoy bee larva, I wouldn’t particularly put it at the top of my list of favourite foods from around the world. I would however, recommend trying it for yourself.


When travelling try your best to meet the local cuisine head on and fearlessly try something new. Experiencing a new way of living is what travel is all about!


Until next time, Bon appetit