One of the many perks of travelling is having the opportunity to taste and savour the unique dishes that each country has to offer… even if some things look more terrifying than tantalising!
At WAVA, we believe that one of the best ways to have a truly authentic travel experience is through food. Cultural differences are rampant, and whilst interacting with local tribes or learning to speak rare indigenous languages are central to your experience – to fully immerse yourself in the journey you need to use more than just your eyes and ears. Travelling is also a ‘flavour adventure‘ that involves your mouth!
Celebrate cultural differences by finding out how local people cook their meals - what ingredients do they use? How is it grown? How is it eaten? And even, how are you required to behave at the dining table?
We encourage all our travellers to bite down on the edible aspects of their journey – nibble, gnaw, chew and chomp, to fully enjoy the plethora of food available.
As travellers ourselves, we (the WAVA team) have dared to taste! Here are some insights from our travels …
Isobel in Chile: ‘Paila Marina – this typical Chilean dish is a must eat for all seafood lovers!
Made up of every sea creature that could possibly exist all thrown in together, it is essentially the sea in a bowl. Baby clams, baby mussels, abalones, barnacles, conger eel, crab, along with giant versions of mussels and clams that you can only find in Chile are all cooked together in a fish stock based soup.
The soup is flavoured with onion, tomato, lemon and coriander and all served up in a paila dish, a traditional earthenware bowl to retain the heat. Delicious!’
Ricard in Ecuador: ‘In Ecuador I ate a guinea pig, which is a rodent, not a pig.
It’s widely consumed, especially by large families at the weekend.
I was expecting it to be stringy, dry and bony, but in fact it was succulent and tender. A whole guinea pig was enough for three people.
It is served with potatoes and ají – a spicy chilli sauce Ecuadorians serve with everything. It’s also popular in Peru and Bolivia.’
Chini in Ghana: ‘Anyone who has ever visited a West African country will be familiar with this dish – fufu and soup.
It’s a hot soup served with a mound of fufu (made from ground cassava or plantains), think mashed potatoes but with a ‘doughy’ texture. Strangely enough, fufu doesn’t actually have much taste – it’s the soup that’s packed with flavour.
This one is a light groundnut soup with goat meat. And yes, it’s customary to not use cutlery, but pinch off a bit of the fufu with your fingers to scoop up the soup. Oh, and Ghanaians don’t chew the fufu – they just dip and swallow. It’s good!’
Peter in Mozambique: ‘When I was in Mozambique I was treated to an authentic Mozambican meal made by the local community. Sitting in a thatched hut I was served matapa with fresh local bread.
I was intrigued by the look of the dish, and whilst it did not look appetising, it actually tasted very good. It is made from matapa leaves, coconut milk and seafood.
The seafood in Mozambique is legendary and the prawns in the dish were caught locally by one of the villagers. This was a truly authentic cultural experience, culminating in the local women and children breaking out into traditional song and dance.’
Rhys in India: ‘This was the first meal that I ate whilst I was visiting the Himalayan Community Volunteer programme in Himachal Pradesh.
I ate in the dining room of the camp accommodation with the view from the window overlooking the Himalayas.
The meal was mouth watering and consisted of two vegetable dishes, rice and chapattis. In order to be polite and eat like the Indians I tried to just use my right hand but in the end I just had to use the cutlery!’
Susana in Nepal: ‘I wasn’t a big fan of spicy food, but after my trip to Nepal I must admit that my opinion has changed. Dahl Bhat is the Nepalese main dish, very similar to Indian rice with vegetable curry. Eating rice with your hand is quite an experience and I assure you, it gives a completely different perspective to eating food!
Oh, and the sikarni (homemade yogurt) at the end of the meal is mandatory!
Also the spice-market in Kathmandu is unbelievable, it makes you marvel at the sheer number of flavours and recipes that you can create.”