CNN Eatocracy

In his new book, “Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders,” Cooking Channel host Jeffrey Saad takes home cooks on an international culinary tour without making them ever step foot outside the kitchen.

But never leaving your house doesn’t sound like a heck of a lot of fun, now does it? Especially when there’s soupe a l’oignon in Paris, ramen in Japan and kiwifruit in New Zealand on the other side.

Here’s to eating, drinking and being merry – wherever your passport might take you.

Five Steps to Delicious Travels: Jeffrey Saad


1. Technology is delicious!
“If you use an iPad or similar device, download travel guides that focus on food. Read ahead of time (or on the plane) and use the highlight feature to summarize spots you want to hit and specific information about food customs, etc.

Also, download a basic translation software on your phone or device for the language if you’re traveling abroad. Oftentimes, the country itself has an app. I just used Thailand’s ‘Speak Thai’ app, which does not require internet access. It was brilliant! If you can say a few words, it really opens people up to share information with you at the markets and restaurants.

Download a menu translator (or buy the book). When you get a menu with no English (already a good sign!), you want to be able to understand what you are ordering.”

2. What is your pleasure?
“Decide what kind of food experience you are after – high-end, market food, street food, country cuisine, city fare, or all of them if you have time. That focus makes it easier to get the most out of my trip, versus trying to pack too much in.

Become an expert on one or two things. Decide on a few of the dishes that inspired you and make it a point to order one of those everywhere you go (in addition to everything else). When I went to Thailand, I focused on the fish cakes, the pad thai, and the Nam Prik (a condiment with many versions based on chilies, fish sauce, lime, dried shrimp, etc.).”

3. Like everything in life, time invested up front will pay off later
“Use the technology mentioned above to study as much as you can ahead of time – 15 minutes before bed, during coffee breaks, lunch, etc. It is always exciting to recognize a dish, a fruit, or a local fish, and fully experience it because you had a base knowledge, rather than returning home after the fact and saying, ‘Oh, that is what I had?’ Your experience will be tenfold if you go prepared.

Learn ahead of time about the local eating habits and customs. When you respect the locals, they appreciate it. When you understand the culture, you feel like you are part of it. I will never forget the first time I ordered an espresso at the counter of a Parisian cafe and then sat down with it. Big no-no! It’s a different price at the stand-up counter.”

4. Sleep well, drink the free coffee, but don’t talk to the front desk
“I’ve learned that although they only have good intentions, the concierge/staff of the hotel ALWAYS send you to the obvious, often ‘has-been’ touristy spots. Even when I’ve told them I am a professional chef/restaurateur, they can’t help it.

Who to ask? Retail employees. I had one of the best culinary trips of my life in Montreal when my wife and I went to celebrate our anniversary. I struck up a conversation with a clothing store employee and from the way she was describing her recommendation, I trusted her food knowledge. We went to all six restaurants she suggested and each one was amazing.

Listen for details about the way your local travel guide describes the food and ingredients versus simply saying, ‘It’s popular.’ When there is a language barrier, you’ll understand less, but chances are, their recommendations will be better than the hotel.

Utilize your virtual communities. Tweet, Facebook, e-mail, reach out and ask ‘Where shall I eat when I go to X?‘ You’ll quickly find that you have a great network of people to rely on.”

5. Pay attention to your surroundings
“When a place is small and has a line stretching out the door with locals, chances are, the food is spot on.”

Is there someone you’d like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we’ll do our best to chase ‘em down.


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