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So much of every culture is rooted in its food. When ethos can be fulfilled on the diameter of a plate, you’d be selling yourself and your travels short to not employ your taste buds to commit the flavor of a time and place into your memory. Sometimes tapping into food that is true to an area can be daunting. Travelers commit the blunder of sticking to tourist traps instead of letting themselves explore the uniqueness that the food of a region can offer.

There are a few tricks that can be used to ensure you don’t fall down that rabbit hole:

Talk to Strangers

Don’t underestimate the value of the locals. Seek out people who are native to the region and obtain their counsel. Who better to point you in the right direction than someone who has walked the route themselves? This will be how you will learn about all the hidden gems while the tourists all flock to the same few restaurants.

Take the Path Less Traveled

We all know when we’ve stepped onto the main road of a town. Don’t be afraid to search out the hole-in-the-wall restaurant that might have the best, cheapest plate of cuisine you’ll have while on your trip. These little places are also often more authentic and truly reflective of the people and cuisine of the area. Let the food and atmosphere of restaurants off-the-beaten-path accommodate your desire to try new, delicious food.

Be True to the Region

Don’t be the person that goes to Rome and gets a grilled cheese sandwich. They may be tasty, but that’s not what the area is known for. Get pasta in Italy, try paella in Spain, eat jambalaya in the Bayou – nobody knows how to do food better than the area the food originated in. Let the food speak for the region and enlighten you as to why it was made famous there.

Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone

We all love a club sandwich and the temptation to stick to a meal you hold near and dear to your heart is sometimes too strong to resist. Try new things! Branch out of your food comfort zone. There are so many interesting flavors out there if you but have a mind to try.

Travel in-and-of-itself is a joy. Food is icing on the cake of being in a new place. Let your inner foodie dwell in the rich culture that is a true local meal.