One of the most frustrating things about returning from an overseas trip is not being able to experience the local cuisine the same way.
Your local options tend to seem “off” whether it’s Americanized sushi rolls after a trip to Japan. Or, the slight difference you notice right away when biting into a brat after a trip to Germany.
You could drop some money to go to some of the higher-end restaurants. But, who has that kind of money especially when you were just spending pocket change for those same meals?
There are a few ways to recreate these foodie experiences without the high costs. They’re pretty darn close and may come out better since you’re also reliving the experience through cooking. And, adding a bit of novelty like you had when traveling.
Take a moment to flip-the-script and imagine what the German or Japanese might do to recreate our foods. Things like a pumpkin spice latte, or even ketchup, can be exotic to them while Americans might give a great big yawn. It’s all in the perspective.
Consider the following to relive those tastes you had overseas:
Niche Online Stores
If there’s one awesome thing about the internet it’s that we have an unlimited access to just about everything. This includes those odd-ball spices and ingredients you’ll find nowhere else.
No, not World Market but actual niche (small, unique) sites specializing in a few different items. Or, sites dedicated to helping people experiment with ethnic cooking.
Try exploring one of these:
- For the Gourmet
You could also find plenty of ‘knock-off” blogs and sites helping you recreate your favorite foods from famous spots and brands.
Love the spice palette you found on tour trip to Thailand and Laos? A simple search will locate stores that sell them.
Love a good Ratatouille? You can recreate it with a video tutorial.
Love a specialty sauce? You can find people reverse engineering it.
You name it and a quick [Food] + [Knock-off or store] will deliver great, online results.
Try Your Local Ethnic Market
Local ethnic markets are the hidden gems of your community. Your first trip to one (or several) is a dizzying array of choice. The shelves are lined with countless ingredients, spices, products, and snacks you’ll likely fumble pronouncing.
No worries if you’re having trouble navigating the markets. Ask an attendant and you’re more than likely receive excellent help! Otherwise, ask a friend fluent in the language to help.
There’s also the thrill of grabbing items at random. Using your visuals much like how you did when traveling abroad. Here, you’ll pick and choose based on what looks tasty and interesting. This can make for quite an interesting set of finds for your next meal.
Want to maximize your shopping at these ethnic markets? Find online forums or culture-specific food blogs and print recipes. Show this to the attendants and you’ll soon stock your pantry with goodies.
Subscription Boxes (Or Your Own)
There’s a subscription box for just about everything these days and this includes ethnic foods per country! This is a great way to relive those foodie cravings each month.
Want to try a few, random ones? Consider:
- Japan Crate — Monthly snacks and trinkets from Japan
- My Cajita — Monthly goods and food items from Mexico
- My Russian Box — Monthly crafts and snacks from Russia
These boxed options are growing day-by-day. Before long, you can have one coming in from every country you’ve visited! This can get a little pricey but it’s definitely a neat way to recreate those authentic tastes!
Alternatively, let’s say you made a couple of friends when traveling abroad and got their details or Facebook. What’s stopping you from doing a snack/food exchange?
This cuts out the middle-man of these food subscription boxes letting you pick-and-choose what you’ll get, really cheap. You could send out a message to your acquaintances, set up a snack swap, and get to enjoy all those flavors again!
The World is Smaller Than You Thought
The web and its free flow of information let everyone share their ideas and experiences. One thing permeating everywhere is one’s love to share recipes.
You’re a ride down the way to exploring new foods. You’re one click away from ordering ingredients to recreate favorite, foreign dishes.