Enjoying the Local Cuisine, by Rich Paschall

Imagine getting on a plane and flying for eight hours, landing in another country, to go to McDonald’s.  The premise may sound a bit absurd, but it is the sort of thing many people do.  When we stayed in London recently, we found a street nearby that has a Burger King, Subway sandwiches and a Kentucky Fried Chicken.  In fact, there is no shortage of American fast food places near the tourist-laden Paddington area.  These familiar sites attract many tourists, largely American, as well as some others and some locals.  We walked past these familiar stops in favor of local businesses.

It does not matter how many seats they have
It does not matter how many seats they have

For some the familiarity is the thing that drives them into the establishments they know from home.  They will certainly get food they can eat at prices that are still reasonable.  To me, it does not matter.  I did not go all that way to eat at someplace I can visit walking distance from my house.  If I want a Whopper with Cheese, fries and a diet Coke, I know where to get it.

On the same street with the American fast food giants were local coffee shops and restaurants, a pub or two and even a London Chicken stop that looked like they may be providing fast food.  We skipped it too. Of course, if you are on a limited budget, you may wish to go places where the food is cheap.  However, local business may also have food at reasonable rates.

My friend from France has a motto by which we travel.  “Eat local, drink local.” That does not include local fast food.  We always skip those.  If we are unfamiliar with a location, we pick out something that looks good and we give it a try.  Sometimes you must have a sense of adventure.  It does not mean you have to spend a lot of money.

Beer, Food, Beds!
Beer, Food, Beds!

Within walking distance of our London hotel, we found many shops and small restaurants for breakfast and lunch.  At dinner time we checked out the local pubs, never going to the same one twice.   In a spot called the House of Paddington, where they served Fish and Chips all day, the edge of the awning advertised Beer, Food and Beds.  Since we passed it everyday, our curiosity was finally aroused enough to visit it on the last night.  As I did not yet have Fish and Chips on the trip, I went ahead and ordered.  And yes, they do have beds for weary travelers or maybe for someone who has stayed too long.  They run a hostel on the floors above.

Some think that food in England is rather bland, but the only thing I found to be that way was the fish (cod) and chips.  Everything else was tasty.  We washed down dinner with local ales, taking recommendations from the bartender at each stop.  “Nothing too bitter” was my request each time, while my travel companion was content to drink the dark and bitter stuff.  We had plenty of selections that we had never heard of before.

Drink local
Drink local – London

If you can not afford to eat at local spots, no matter how reasonable, then you may consider dropping into local markets for your breakfast and lunch and picking out items that are easy to make or you can eat on the run.  Some years ago when I visited Paris with a friend, we discovered that our tiny room also came with a tiny refrigerator.  We pushed aside those hotel items to make room for some yogurt, water and whatever we could make fit.  In that way, we ate out less often and did not pay for the mini bar items. In fact, I have used this trick a number of times.

I love the food and wine in France.  I am fortunate to have a close friend in the Alsace region and we have toured there a lot.  Of course, he took me to some of his favorite spots, and at other times we tried something that was new to us both.  It is good to know someone who knows all the good wine tasting locations as well.

French cuisine and fine wine
Eat local, drink local – France

Once we met in Frankfurt and travelled to Stuttgart by train.  We attended the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart during the traditional Oktoberfest season, but I have wisely decided not share any of those pictures.  Let me just say the food and drink were excellent.  We have a pastry shop picture instead.

Eat local - Germany
Eat local – Germany

When my friend from Alsace makes the long trip to Chicago, he does not want to see the Burger King or Ronald McDonald when there are so many good restaurants and sports bars.  I could name locations in this country as well as others, where we avoided the fast food for the local fare. When you are on the road, find out what is good to eat at your destination city, and skip the fast food you can get at home.

Eat local - Chicago
Eat local – Chicago

25 thoughts on “EAT LOCAL, DRINK LOCAL

  1. Marilyn Armstrong January 1, 2017 / 1:43 am

    The weirdest thing about eating in these places is that the food they serve is usually nothing like what you get in the US anyhow. So you might as well enjoy the local cuisine, because they really don’t have a clue how to cook American-style outside of America. A hamburger in London can be traumatic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rich Paschall January 1, 2017 / 1:58 am

      I had a hamburger in a pub actually. It wasn’t bad. The rest of the meal was good too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marilyn Armstrong January 1, 2017 / 2:07 am

        They used to make hamburgers from something that tasted rather like corned beef. Definitely salted. When I asked WHY they used that strange version of minced beef, they said it was “American style.” It wasn’t so much bad as weird. Ireland also had some very odd ideas of what we eat here. In any case, why travel halfway round the world to eat in MacDonald’s? Especially if the food is just like back home. If that’s what you want, stay home.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rich Paschall January 1, 2017 / 11:53 am

          On a trip to London in the 1990s we could not resist the urge to eat in a restaurant called Chicago. The food did not resemble anything I ever had here, and it was not very good either.


      • Garry Armstrong January 1, 2017 / 1:39 pm

        Rich, I can never understand our fellow Americans who travel abroad to old world cities and wondrous history — only to eat at Mickey Dee’s, never sample local cuisine or drink and stick to standard tours.
        What’s the purpose?? A few souvenirs??
        Happy New Year, Rich!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rich Paschall January 1, 2017 / 1:55 pm

          Happy New Year! These later in life trips include a few pictures, perhaps a refrigerator magnet saying where I have been and great memories. They do not include stops at American chain restaurants, especially those a few moments from home.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Garry Armstrong January 2, 2017 / 1:43 pm

            Rich, I’m glad you included pictures. They personalize your pieces. Hey, you look to still be in your prime!!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Rich Paschall January 2, 2017 / 3:33 pm

              As I have gotten older I realize how great these trips can be, especially when you are with friends or going to visit friends.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. January 1, 2017 / 9:12 am

    And even more important, buy regional food at home for example on real local markets. We have such in Germany everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rich Paschall January 1, 2017 / 11:49 am

      There are German markets in Chicago as well as many other ethnic stores. I guess it is the same in most large cities. Also, we can find many German products at Aldi, which is a German owned supermarket with several locations here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 2, 2017 / 1:06 am

        Sorry, you misunderstood me a little bit, I meant real traditional markets on places in towns / villages where regional products can be distributed and sold more directly by producers, peasants, hunters, etc. to the buying consuments (not so many between sellers like in supermarkets). Well the quality of Aldi products have really significantly improved in the recent 10 years, however these big supermarket chains more and more behave like dictators of agriculture what is not at all desirable and good for us all.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rich Paschall January 2, 2017 / 1:35 am

          I agree and there are many local and traditional markets here of quality. I love the French Markets and there are many German markets here as well. Yes, Aldi has improved greatly and now has many organic and locally grown items as well as imports. Ten years ago it was not a place to shop.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. omniclassic January 1, 2017 / 9:30 am

    I was in Edinburgh in 2006 and just couldn’t resist the temptation to try a MacDonald’s Hamburger out of pure curiosity. It wasn’t the same and I promise, I’ll never do that again. In spite of the reputation that Brits can’t cook, I found some rather delicious items all over London and Scotland. BTW, if you want great East Indian food the UK is the Place.., go figure?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rich Paschall January 1, 2017 / 11:55 am

      We did see many Indian, Pakistani and various Middle Eastern restaurants in the area where we stayed, but we also have many of them at home too.


  4. swo8 January 1, 2017 / 12:51 pm

    Many years ago my husband was on a convention in Strasbourg. One evening we were wandering down some back street where there was this lovely little restaurant. The owner invited us in and we had the most wonderful meal of cannelloni I’ve ever eaten. The price was reasonable but the food was out of this world.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OmniRunner January 1, 2017 / 6:31 pm

    I try to eat local as well, it’s much more fun. On at least two occasions I’m pretty sure I ate in the worse restaurant in San Francisco! But I had a fantastic Po Boy in Houston. Steak is hit or miss in Houston.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn Armstrong January 1, 2017 / 6:36 pm

      We had some of the worst food we’ve ever eaten in Ireland … and some of the best. At least nothing put us in the hospital. But no risk, no adventure, right? That Denny’s in Phoenix was an adventure!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Rich Paschall January 1, 2017 / 9:12 pm

        I had great food in Mexico City, but I went out with someone who lived there.


        • Marilyn Armstrong January 2, 2017 / 12:37 pm

          It helps to have local advice from people who know what good food is. We were with friends in San Francisco. THAT was GREAT food!

          Liked by 1 person

    • Rich Paschall January 1, 2017 / 9:11 pm

      I was not impressed with anything I had in Texas, but we did avoid fast food. I think we had good Mexican food in San Antonio, however.


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