Why I’m Not Eating the Local Cuisine Tonight

I had just been presented with another anorexic, tasteless, limp, pink disc of a thing and posted a moan on Twitter about the general poor state of hamburgers on the Canary Island I call home, Tenerife.

One of the responses had me rubbing my chin in a ponderous fashion.

“What are you doing eating hamburgers in Spain? You should be trying the local food.”

Burger in Spain
LOCAL FOOD - A BURGER (A DECENT ONE)

It seemed like a fair enough point. Clearly it’s a given we should try the local nosh when we’re spending time on foreign shores.

It should be against some sort of travel law not to wrap your teeth around something peculiar to the country you’re visiting, or even something peculiar in the country you’re visiting. But the floppy excuse of a burger was one of the reasons that illustrated with food and travel things aren’t always as simple as that, especially when you spend a lot of time in the one location.

What is Local Food Anyway?
For a start, the locals here love hamburgueserias, generally preferring their own to the big boy franchises. In that respect, hamburgers are as local in Spain as they are in Britain where they are also a ‘foreign’ import. However, it’s unlikely that anyone would chastise a visitor for not trying the local fare because they were sinking their teeth into a beefy burger in a local junk food joint down Princess Street in Edinburgh.

But the main reason why I won’t be eating Canarian cuisine tonight is that I live here; I love food and I am also a believer that variety is the spice of life.

Goat and Chips
LOCAL FOOD - GOAT AND FRENCH FRIES

If You Love Food You’ll Never Just Eat Local
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve chewed on a tough old goat, tasted a dish called old clothes (not an unkind description), eaten a basic paste of flour and stock that hasn’t evolved in centuries and popped tentacles into my gob with relish.

The octopus was actually quite a modern fusion of styles but the rest were about as basic a cuisine as you can find; great when you’re on a brief visit and every authentic plate put in front of you tastes like the best thing you’ve eaten. But if you’re a foodie, you need your palate to be treated to a bit of pizazz every now and again and the local simplistic rustic fare doesn’t always do that.

The upshot of this is that much of the time, although we do use local produce, we don’t eat local dishes. There is simply not enough variety or sophistication to keep my buds perky.

The thing is, that is no different from when we lived near Manchester. Sometimes we’d eat British, sometime Italian, Greek, Indian, Thai, Spanish, Mexican etc. And most of the time we’d cook at home choosing a recipe because it appealed, with not a lot of thought about which country’s cuisine had influenced it.

Escaldón de Gofio, Tenerife
LOCAL FOOD - TOASTED FLOUR AND VEGETABLE STOCK

Travelling around another country is one thing (even then there are destinations where we’ve given the local restaurants a body swerve after a few days because the menu in each was exactly the same), spending a lot of time with a different country’s cuisine is another.

Basically, this is a long-winded way of saying that as long as you give the local food table space as well, there’s no need to feel any guilt at eating a burger in Spain, or anywhere for that matter.

Unless it’s beneath the golden arches, in which case I say ‘shame on you; call yourself a traveller?’

Salmon in a Cava Sauce
OUR FOOD - SALMON IN CAVA SAUCE

Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+




6 Comments

  1. If there’s one thing you can be sure about it’s that the sun will rise in the east, set in the west and that there will be a fast food franchise at your destination of choice.

    I wholeheartedly agree that local cuisine should feature on your table while abroad and while there’s no reason to avoid home comforts I just can’t get onboard with fast food franchises! Buy some ingredients and tickle your taste buds at home as you suggest!

  2. Couldn’t agree more! Much as I love the local cuisine here in Extremadura, I do like to eat something that doesn’t have pimenton in it every once in a while. Steak Pie for supper tonight, I think!

    • LOL. You put me in the mood for a steak pie but the local supernercado was out of kidney.

      I love Spanish cuisine. But I also love food from other countries as well. Thai green curry for me tonight 🙂

  3. It’s just a kind of snobbery to say you should always eat local, frankly in some places one woud never eat at all if one had to “eat local.” Of course on vacation it’s part of the travel experience, but if you live somewhere or are staying long term then you eat what you fancy on the day, no?

    BTW Had two travel experiences which required me to eat Micky Ds because when I arrived in a) Rome and b)Nice everywhere else was closed! What I found in both places was that they had things appropriate to the area, so not all fast food is the same – and I think it has its place in life!

    BTW2 Best burger ever? An Aberdeen Angus one somewhere in Scotland – forget just where!

    • Aberdeen Angus – top beef. I’m not surprised it was a top burger. I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of an Angus burger.

      The irony, despite the acccusations about being unadventurous eaters, is that being British we’ve grown up with a wider range of world cuisine than a lot of other nationalities. One of the benefits of a multicultural society.

      I like fast food – just not the big franchises. I’ve had a Big Mac on Tenerife just the once (similar reason to you), I’m sure there was a bite taken out of it 🙂

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