“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ― Augustine of Hippo

Just as the quote says, this is what I go by for my traveling philosophy. I’m not talking about traveling to fancy places and tasting the food at fancy restaurants and relaxing under the cute sun shine on a hammock by a private beach (of course I’d love to try all kinds of food and relax sometimes), but I’m talking about traveling to places, visiting local residents, and eating local foods. Just like books or architectures, foods do reflect history, but in a more intriguing and less violent way. You will be able to understand why there are such combinations of food that you never came into contact with, or never heard of. For example, you would think having a sushi roll with a strawberry jam center is weird, but you wouldn’t know that it’s quite tasty and popular in Brazil. Or how about a pizza with boiled egg toppings, or fish soup that’s sweet and sour, or crispy tarantula (urgh I’m not there yet!).

I always try to keep my mind open whenever I travel to a new place, because then I will be able to learn new things and learn how they actually came to practicality, instead of being held back and criticizing based on what I’ve came to know. People who travel the world and learn about cultures passionately are the kindest people. They understand that people have different perception based on what they have grown up with, but everyone will also have the ability to adapt and adopt. It’s just the matter of whether or not they choose to embrace it or ignore it. Conflicts are born from misunderstanding and close-mindedness. It all relates to food in some way for me. My friends and I used to have “debates” about food, like the way we marinade beef (ginger or garlic), or the way to stir fry vegetables (garlic or shallots), or even the way we cook a braise dish (with coconut water or without it)… The thing is they are all true. If we had traveled more and had a chance to visit each other’s home town, we could have realized that the way people cook in different places are different. We could have realized that instead of trying to prove who was right and who was wrong, we could have taken those differences as great alternatives for us when we have limited access to our familiar ingredients in the future. Food offers endless possibility.

In my perception, I have difference definitions for “tourists” and “travelers”. Tourists travel to new places to get a glimpse of new culture, to refresh themselves from the current life they are living. They visit famous places, try interesting foods, and enjoy the interesting cultural activities, as advertised. Open-minded tourists are willing to try new kinds of food and have a choice of whether or not they like their experiences in the new lands, based on what they have experienced from their own cultures. Travelers are different. They travel to new lands with an empty mind, with no expectation, and with a hungry will to learn about everything there is about the new culture, new cuisines, and new lifestyle. They absorb it all in as if their mind is a blank paper, and emerge themselves in their surroundings, from living with the natives, to learning the language, to learning the way of cooking. The important different is that they understand thoroughly how things work the way they are. They grow to appreciate the culture and the differences, and embrace it and integrate it to their lives once they get back to it. Just to give an example, a tourist will learn that the tempura dish served at Japanese sushi restaurants actually originated from Portugal, and then a little bit of the history of how the Japanese come to know this dish and turn it into one of their own. A traveler, food traveler, will learn all of that, and also the way to make an original tempura dish, and the new one, and learn how the Japanese actually elevate the dish to a new level. They then understand the “mechanics” behind it and attempt to create their own version of tempura, or something new from the technique they learned.

Maybe this is all very far from what the dictionary tells you about the two words, or maybe it’s not even making any sense to you as you are reading this, but this is how I see traveling 🙂 It is my own way seeing the world, through the lenses of food. I learn history through the evolution of foods, and I learn new techniques of cooking everywhere i go, and later use it for my own recipes. It is fun, it is exciting, and it is how I live the life of my own. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone, but I hope that what I came up with, or will come up with in the future, will help me put my name on the world map as a passionate foodie, an innovator, or an originator 🙂

This section of my blog will be a space for me to share my travel stories, my experiences with the people and the cultures that I came to learn about. It all started with a wild decision that took be to Brazil in  2012. We’ll see where this takes me 🙂