I’ve sipped Ayran, a frothy yogurt drink made with water and salt, in the tent of a Kurdish nomad; sampled Mexican grasshoppers seasoned with chili powder and lime; and eaten kimchee stored in a pot buried underground in the backyard of a Korean homestay host.
Only once in many years of traveling have I become sick enough to take the travel meds I always carry with me.
That was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where I ate the night before at a Western-style private club that served pasta and chicken.
Some of my most memorable travel experiences have to do getting to know people over food and drink.
I first tasted fermented barley wine while strolling with a Korean friend through a food festival in a village outside of Seoul. I was the only Western woman in the crowd, so every vendor wanted me to sample his brew.
Whenever I bite into a corn tortilla, I think of Francisca de la Luz (Francisca of the light) whom I met in the village of San Francisco Uricho, near Patzcuaro, Mexico. Working in an outdoor kitchen, her black hair tied back and braided, she used a granite rolling pin to shape her dough into perfect disks, then grilled her tortillas – 300 per day – in a flat griddle over an open fire.
My philosophy: Set some ground rules for yourself based on information from a travel medicine specialist. Stick to them, no exceptions. Then dive in and eat like a local.
Read my tips for staying healthy in this week's Travel Wise column in The Seattle Times.