Spaghetti Around the World

For many people, myself included, we go on vacation to get away from it all, or at least to trade in our “all” for someone else’s. To me, the process never seems quite complete, and I was able to figure out why: I keep bringing myself along. When I’m in new exciting places, I still have my same preferences and many previously unidentified expectations.

I discovered this early in my time spent in England with frequent jaunts to the Continent. Knowing that I was going to continue to be myself, I decided to find ways to give my trips more local flavor.

As I previously mentioned, I typically stayed in hostels, both to have company and to spread my travel money. I normally had a couple things I really wanted to do in each city I visited, and the rest of the time was free to explore.

Another benefit of hostels is that they all provided continental breakfasts, which would keep me going for a while. Not caring to eat around cigarette smoke, I normally would stop at a street vendor for lunch. I always chose the ones frequented by people in business attire, and I was never disappointed.

Street Food Vendor

For dinner, I would normally pop into a corner market and pick something traditional, at least for the first night: In France, it was a petite baguette and some Camembert;  in Milan, it was a ready to eat meal filled with fabulous greens and carrots; and in Stockholm, I went to a very busy pizzeria and ordered the veggie option – which had corn on it and was remarkably good!

One thing I learned is that if you want to eat on the cheap, make spaghetti in the hostel kitchen.

Spaghetti
Gotosira generously allowed me to use this flickr photo.

I’ve eaten spaghetti in nearly every country in Western Europe. While it might sound pedestrian, I was so surprised at how different the jarred sauces in each country taste. None was as sweet as the American varieties. Some were a bit spicy (then again I’m a heat wimp), others tasted remarkably fresh and quite strongly of tomatoes, and others had seasonings I couldn’t quite place but thoroughly enjoyed. With each stop, I so looked forward to this bit of local color.

Do you have a go-to meal that you like to compare when you travel? or Have you ever wished you could leave yourself behind and experience things through the eyes of people who live there?

4 thoughts on “Spaghetti Around the World”

  1. When I was in France I did the baguette and cheese meal too. I did that to save money. France isn’t cheap after all.

    I don’t really have a go-to meal as far as eating cheaply goes. I’ve only eaten spaghetti a few times while traveling. The last time was in Morocco and it was a huge treat. Food there is redundant with very little selection. So that spaghetti meal tasted extra good to me just for the reason of variety.

    I do have a type of cuisine I like to try in every country I go. A friend of mine and I made it a thing where we eat Indian food wherever we go. So I had it all over Asia. Now I try and have it in every country I go. Which is tough because not every country has an Indian restaurant.

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    1. What an interesting cuisine type to try. What differences have you noticed? I found very few dishes on Indian menus in both the US and UK.

      I would have thought that Moroccan food would have been quite tasty, with variety. Then again, when I think of Moroccan food, it is always the exact same spices. I can see how spaghetti would be quite a treat after that flavor palate.

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  2. Coffee is something I like to compare when I travel.

    And your spaghetti experience reminds me of eating tacos in Mexico. Nothing like the “tacos” we eat in the states. They got it all wrong – don’t they know how to make Mexican food? hee-hee

    actually they were really good – just not the Taco Bell, or Taco Time variety.

    Same with “Chinese” food in Singapore. You’d never think they were anything from the same continent.

    That’s another great thing about travel – one gets to see how the ethnic food we eat is so Americanized. Usually, like you discovered, our variety is sweeter, or as I’ve often found, saltier.

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    1. Although I am not a coffee drinker, I can see how it would be an interesting testing ground in your journeys.

      LOL: “don’t they know how to make Mexican food?” How funny! I had Mexican food one night in Northern Scotland. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t anything like what I’ve had south of the border. Also, when I was at an all inclusive club in Cancun that catered to Americans, their “Mexican” food we like “On the Border” or “El Toritos” here. I laughed at our authentic cuisine.

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