On food and travel, by Anthony Bourdain
I often talk about the “Grandma rule” for travelers. You may not like Grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey. It may be overcooked and dry-and her stuffing salty and studded with rubbery pellets of giblet you find unpalateble in the extreme. You may not even like turkey at all. But it’s Grandma’s turkey. And you are in Grandma’s house. So shut the f*%k up and eat it. And afterward, say “Thank you, Grandma, why yes, yes, of course I’d love seconds…
I feel too lucky-now more than ever-too acutely aware what an incredible, unexpected privilege it is to travel this world and enjoy the kindness of strangers to ever, ever be able to understand how one could do anything other than say yes, yes, yes.
Yes, yes, yes indeed. I eat meat here because it’s easy-but also because that’s what people eat here. Food is the cultural touchstone of a country; it reflects the region, the religion, and a daily action of the people that live there. As we’ve all heard before, “you are what you eat.” Denying someone else’s food-and a food that reflects their own history on top of that-upsets me, greatly. When someone wants to cook for you, they want to spend their own precious time nourishing you. And if you deny a chef (and yourself) that opportunity? In the immortal words of Stephanie Tanner, “how rude!”
If someone offers their local cuisine, it’s an additional opportunity to experience a different life and history. You may be offered something you may have never seen before. Take my advice and EAT IT. Trust that it will make you a happier, healthier, and more educated person. It’s a cautious dance that can be very rewarding. And if it’s not, at least you have a good story. Like the story about an RHOB who thought she was ordering pita and got jelled ham and onions instead.
The quote is from Bourdain’s book, Medium Raw.