Like most topics, the subject of travel and food is also not devoid of myths and misconceptions. Many travel blogs and guidebooks explain ways to find the perfect food spot when travelling abroad, but those guidelines may not always be of great help. Here let’s look at some of the travel dining myths:
ENGLISH MENU = TOURIST TRAP
This is probably one of the most widespread fables of the travel dining myths. People assume that if you are handed a menu in English, it is a tourist restaurant, catering to the palettes of foreigners without much care and that no local person would ever dream of setting foot in that restaurant. Yeah sure, this can be the case, especially if you sit down at a restaurant in the main square of whatever major European city you are visiting, but oftentimes an English menu just means there is an English menu.
Most cities around the world that cater to tourists, expats, and other non-native language speaking people realize that English speaking menus are a must. An English menu doesn’t mean they are catering only to tourists. It might just mean they want to help the random foreigner who turns up. There are plenty of places in Korea that have English menus, but not many as you won’t see many foreigners dining out.
IT’S FILLED WITH LOCALS SO IT MUST BE GOOD:
Have you ever experienced McDonald’s on a Saturday afternoon in Europe? Or Applebee’s in a small town in the United States? These places are filled with locals. You are talking lines out the door, a 40-minute wait for a table on a Tuesday evening packed with people who live there. But are Applebee’s and McDonald’s wonderful restaurants you would recommend to someone visiting? Certainly not! Just because you are in Germany, and every person in the place is German doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to be a great meal.
Germans, like most everyone else, don’t go out to phenomenal, local cuisine serving restaurants every time they dine. The restaurant is most likely filled with Germans because you are in Germany. Similarly, if there are a couple of other tables of tourists it doesn’t necessarily mean that the restaurant is going to be absolutely terrible because there are foreigners there. They probably also saw this place on TripAdvisor, too.
IT IS IN FRANCE (OR WHATEVER CULINARY RENOWNED COUNTRY) SO IT MUST BE AMAZING:
This myth happens to be especially prevalent in places like France and Italy, places that are well-known around the world for having good food. People assume they can just waltz into any old brasserie or trattoria and be served a world class meal, just because they are in France, duh.
So, how do you find a good place to dine when travelling abroad? You could firstly ask for recommendations from people who have similar interests and opinions as yours. Another key point is to stay away from main squares and tourist sites as these places tend to serve not-so-exceptional food at ridiculously high prices. Read food blogs related to the place you’re staying at or refer to specialized food magazines. Lastly, go on a food tour that not only surprises you with multiple dishes accompanied with their history and origin, but you also get to meet new people and make friends.