The best part of my travels is the discovery. This isn’t, at all, limited to visiting historical sites and learning my way around a new place. But this discovery primarily pertains to the excitement I get when faced with the prospect of new food to be had. I’m always and forever on the lookout for unique food items that I don’t see around my neck of the woods. So much delight is derived from the feeling of the here and now, because I won’t get a taste of it again until I come back to wherever that particular food is from. I have to admit that I “hoard” some products once in a while for fear of missing it when I’m back home.
However, despite the fact that I cherish some rare food stuffs, I am not an extremist when it comes to trying certain delicacies out. How I wish I could be as adventurous as Anthony Bourdain, but I’ve never had a taste of cricket or scorpion, no matter how many times I’ve seen locals enjoy themselves. In fact, I still get uneasy when faced with the prospect of having to eat balut, even if I’ve had more than 20 in my life. And I still get a little nervous when presented with a dish that’s name is in a language I do not know: Mystery meat, anyone?
So my hunting ground is usually a local grocery store where I am able to browse the “exotic” selections to my heart’s content, while keeping my purse strings tight when I have to. I know that farmer’s markets are all the rage when it comes to seeking out the freshest fruits, produce, specialty products, etc.; but I don’t like to limit myself to the quality of each individual ingredient alone. I don’t mind sampling the prêt-à-porter of the culinary world. Commercialized foods can have something to offer (not all of them, but there is certainly a spread out there), and I don’t want to shut it out completely.
That said, the way I act towards all food in general (locally made and imported, alike) is pretty straightforward. Gourmet presentation isn’t everything, for I understand that each cook has his own way of executing a dish. The scent is a weighty factor, though my years of pleasure eating have taught me to understand that some of the really good foods don’t even smell all that great. Cheese, for example, has never ceased to amaze me by having such a rich taste, despite some types having an almost-putrid smell. Texture (mouth-feel) is something I pay close attention to, since I see it as a very internal sensation, short of actually digesting the food. It’s an intimate contact with what you’re eating, so it ought to be a pleasant experience. Finally, there is the taste of food. I won’t bother getting into the sour/sweet/umami business, since it gets so technical from there. But I regard the taste of food as the end-all criteria. An amazing taste could make up for the presentation, aroma, and even texture; though it can be argued that all the previously mentioned factors are the components of taste itself.
Whatever the case, I am appreciative of the experience that is dining. Never mind the calories, commute, and other such nuisances. Good food is often a worthy cause in itself. And the dining doesn’t necessarily equate to fine dining. I regard it more as the positive feelings that come from a fantastic combination of food and drink. A fulfilling meal.
In the next posts, I’ll be talking about a wide variety of food, ranging from sweet-style spaghetti (a Filipino favorite!) to Chinese medicinal soup (my erstwhile mortal enemy). These items can come from a street vendor, a humble home kitchen, or maybe even an opulent dining spot. The possibilities are endless. And I will share with you the different sensations that I have gathered from each dish or haunt that has brought me in awe of the wonders of dining.
It is personal. It is meaningful. It is joy… This is how I see food. 🙂