For anyone who has attempted to go for a “local experience” on their travels, you’ll probably fully understand where we are coming from with today’s article.
When you travel to another country, if you are avoiding the common tourist destinations, you’ll notice some of the cultural cuisine differences almost immediately. Of course, if you have opted for a tourist hotspot, there’s every chance that everything will feel the same and a lot of today’s text might not make sense.
When it comes to moving to another country, and ultimately having to get used to that country’s way of dining, this can be difficult for some people to take in. After all, they’ve been used to a lifetime of one way, and suddenly they are being forced in a different direction.
The purpose of today isn’t really to provide many answers – unfortunately, acclimatizing to a new culture is something that you have to “put up with”. Some people will embrace it, but others will miss what they have been used to.
Instead, it’s to act as reassurance. It’s to show you that these cultural changes are completely normal – and you are not bizarre for noticing them.
For example, let’s start with the type of food available. Even if you are traveling in the same continent, this will strike you immediately. The easiest example is with the UK and Italy. The former is renowned for quite heavy food (the full English breakfast always grabs the headlines), while the latter is all about pizza, pasta and anything in-between. Sure, we’ve concentrated on stereotypes – but for anyone moving between destinations, the difference is stark.
This doesn’t even focus around mealtimes and might spiral down to something as granular as snacks. Take this Mexican candy as an example; it’s completely normal, and almost an everyday sweet in Mexico, but beyond this and it’s just not going to be found. It might sound small, but for someone who has eaten this most days of their life, losing it when they relocate is quite a big deal.
Next, let’s move onto the dining hours. This next example will again look at the UK, who have traditionally very early dining hours. It’s not uncommon for the main meal to be eaten between 5pm and 7pm, which to some countries sounds absolutely absurd. In fact, some countries are only just sitting down for lunch at this point, which means that the schedule difference is immense.
All of this spirals down to restaurants as well. If you were to visit a UK restaurant at 11pm, there’s a high probability that you might be turned away. If, however, you went to somewhere in Spain or Latin American during these hours – well, they’re only just opening their doors.
A final point can be made about the length of time it takes to consume a meal as well. In some countries, this is a purely social experience – and one that can last hours on end. In others, it’s a practical habit – and one that needs to be finished off as a matter of urgency. Again, if you are relocating to a country and notice this, it can feel like a significant lifestyle change (regardless of the camp you sit within).
To summarize, eating habits vary immensely around the globe. Nothing is going to be exactly the same as what you are “used to”, and some principles will take time to adapt to. If you are familiar with them before you venture away, acclimatizing will become so much easier for you though.