Travelling in order to try foreign foods can make you both very happy and very disappointed!
When you travel and eat a certain food that you’ve been dying to try for a really long time you can end up with somewhat mixed feelings. Your expectations might come true or you are utterly disappointed. Sometimes a very non-traditional dish might be even better than the real deal.
Just trying foreign dishes at home first and tinkering with recipes
I think I have to be honest with you guys, when it comes to “authentic” food I’m a really really bad role-model… More often than not I tried foreign foods at home before ever having the chance to eat the real deal! Before ever having sushi in a restaurant I made some myself with a recipe from the internet. Though I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I had a vague idea in my head how it should taste like. The same goes for Mexican quesadillas, crème brûlée, Hawaiian poke, and a LOT of other things. Weirdly enough, I totally trust people’s recipes! If I don’t like the taste I change it the next time so that I like it.
Usually, the end result I create is very very far from the original and traditional recipe. Now the question: Is that really a bad thing? Take the Chinese pork belly with eggplant recipe for example. I tweaked and tweaked it so that I find it absolutely delicious. Then I went to a really good and traditional Chinese restaurant (thanks to the awesome crowd of Chinese immigrants in Amsterdam!) and tried the authentic dish. You know what – I really liked mine better!
When I was in Mexico I had some terribly bland quesadillas, some ceviche in South-America just tasted way to acidic for my taste and I had dreadful paella in Spain. No matter where you go, you’ll find foods you’ll like and foods that where just way better in your head.
Food is a fight between nature versus nurture
I understand where they are coming from and how the dishes originally came together, I appreciate the flavors, but at the end of the day I’m a stupid Westerner with Western taste buds! The region in which you grow up shapes your taste, your expectations and your preferred flavor profile. Though I have almost no food neophobia* whatsoever, am adventurous with flavors and dare to try almost everything, there are some things that I simply like better than others.
My food: 80% traditional, 10% West European influence, 5% substitution, 5% crazy ingenuity
In that sense, pretty much most of my recipes on this site could be classified as “fusion food”. 80% traditional, 10% West European influence, 5% substitution of ingredients that are hard to get, 5% crazy ingenuity =100% love, dedication and flavors that work! I don’t claim that my recipes are all authentic and traditional. But why should they? If you don’t like something – change it! Make them your own and give them your own little twist! And that goes for all recipes, no matter if they are from a fancy TV-chef, your grandma or if you found them here on my site. I beg you to change the things you don’t like!
Dare to change recipes!
Taste is so subjective and individual. It would be a shame if we’d all like the same old food. The only thing I’d like you to do: If you do change something in a recipe you found on my site, let us know in the comments of that recipe! Maybe your twist is genius and it would be a shame if you keep it to yourself!
*For those really interested in the topic of “food neophobia” (the fright of unknown foods) and why some people have it more than others, have a look at my master thesis on the topic and the scientific article I published. Yes, haha somehow I was able to even make my studies of “communication science” all about food!! You can find a Dutch interview from the campus newspaper here, together with the picture of a way younger me.