My love for travel started when I was eight years old, thanks to my adventurous parents. However, despite visiting exotic destinations like Egypt or Turkey, my parents’ frugality meant most of our meals consisted of hard-boiled eggs and cold ham sandwiches packed into ziplock bags.
Things have changed a lot since then. Good food is now central to my travels. Over the past two years, I’ve visited many of the world’s best food cities such as London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Though I harboured dreams of exploring the historic and cultural sights of these destinations, I usually ended up spending the majority of the trips eating or roving the food markets in search of cured meats, salty beancurd, fried milk and other local delights.
Food is one of the most tangible representations of a culture. It speaks of local produce, history, migratory influences and region-specific cooking techniques. Of course, food doesn’t trump all aspects of travelling, but it does have a heavy influence on many of us. A 2018 survey by Booking.com revealed that 35% of travellers take vacations to try local delicacies. These days, guidebooks such as Michelin and Lonely Planet have taken a backseat in favour of food tours led by chefs or cookbook authors. There’s nothing quite like tucking into delicious morsels at the end of tiny alleys and getting lost amidst the bustle of steamy wet markets.
In March this year, I flew to Copenhagen on a whim after scoring coveted seats at Noma. This two-week trip quickly escalated into a full-fledged foodie romp that took me from the gin stills of Kyrö distillery in Finland to a fairytale castle in the Swiss Alps for my first three-Michelin-star dining experience. Yet, just before that trip, I was pounding the streets of Bangkok hunting down the best larb moo (minced pork salad) and crab omelette.
While my life (as a TasteHunter for 50 Best) is now hectic, I am lucky to be surrounded by friends who are just as excited about gastro-tourism as I am, with many a conversation dominated by which restaurants to visit next. Then there are the people I meet through my foodie escapades – these kindred spirits are reason enough for me to continue my worldly culinary pursuits.
Illustration by Mandy Ng
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This article was originally published in the July 2019 issue of Silkwinds magazine