It’s said that the best way to learning something is to study hard and practice the art. I’ve done a lot of both. Consequently, now that I’ve been at it for more than a decade, I’ve got a pretty good concept of what tastes good and more importantly, why it tastes good.
Years ago, I began taking my students on “educational” tours to Europe. These tours were organized by huge travel companies that packed a bus and ran them through Europe as cheaply as possible. There were many things I did not like about these early tour experiences, but for now, I’ll concentrate on eating and food choices.
In my experience, a typical meal on a student educational tour consisted of weak pasta or salad, a mystery meat cutlet, French fries and a fruit or ice cream cup. Getting a variation of this day after day simply was not my idea of European cuisine. It certainly did not match the grand dining experiences of which I had so often read in books and magazines. On many occasions, I remember returning to the USA and rushing to the first “American” restaurant just to get a good meal. My students’ first stop was often McDonalds! You can read my account of these early days of eating in Europe at my blog entry titled: “I always came home hungry.”
With this in mind, it is no wonder that quality dining experiences are an integral element in my “Exploring Europe” travel philosophy. For me, eating is a cultural experience no less important than seeing the sights, visiting a museum or chatting up a local. It brings the locale to life and presents an authentic and literal “taste” of the destination. I’ve developed an uncanny knack for finding good places to eat. Most often these are far off the “tourist” radar and feature fresh local cuisine, passionately prepared and served by a caring chef. However, I’m not opposed to breaking away from a traditional menu, of say, meat and potatoes in Ireland, and supporting an eclectic chef’s fusion-styled menu.
In my next few blog entries, I will share my passions of European travel, cooking and dining. I hope it makes your taste buds tingle!