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Favourite tips you picked up while travelling ? [Moved from Home Cooking]

I’m curious to know what little food tactics you-all have picked up while traveling. I don't mean the kind of thing you’d learn in a cooking class or by asking a chef – just little things that other cultures do, that you saw and adopted yourself.

Here’s some to get you started:

In Oaxaca, I learned to put a little chili pepper and lime on fresh fruit. Sharpens up the flavour and undercuts the sweetness.

In Florence, I learned to squeeze some lemon onto steak (just before eating it). I never would’ve guessed that’d be so good.

In London, I learned to love bacon jam and mayonnaise sandwiches. Okay, that one probably doesn’t count – it was one quirky friend, I can’t blame all of London. But you get the gist ;-)

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  1. In England I learned Malt Vinegar on French Fries, Baked Beans on Toast with a sunny-side up egg, and Steak and Kidney Pie!

    1. In Melbourne, I learned the breakfast combo of yoghurt, stewed rhubarb and meusli. Delicious!

      1. In Israel, I learned to love chopped salad and cheese for breakfast. :-)

        1. In France, mayo for fries.
          In Spain, fresh crushed tomatoes on toast sprinkled with salt and olive oil for breakfast.

          1 Reply
          1. re: akp

            From France (and Holland), a second for the mayo for fries! YUM!
            In Austrailia (where Thai food is better than "Austrailian" food!), add cilantro to fried rice.

          2. In Italy, I learned to toss a chunk of Parmesan rind into simmering soup/stew for flavour.

            In the UK, I learned that leftover Indian food makes great pizza toppings (tandoori chicken is a standard offering, though I prefer saag paneer).

            In the US, I learned all about semi-homemade.

            2 Replies
            1. re: piccola

              "In the US, I learned all about semi-homemade."


              1. re: JudiAU

                I didn't mean it in a (completely) bad way.

                Plus, since Canada - where I'm from - is pretty close to the US, almost everything else was already familiar.

            2. In southern Europe, that I like unbuttered bread just fine. Haven't buttered (or oiled) it since.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Aromatherapy

                I'm with you on this one. I want to taste the bread, thank you.

              2. In Madrid, to serve quince paste with sharp cheese.

                1. In the south. I learned that ribs don't need sauce. I use it liberally but it isn't a necessity.


                  1. Barcelona--Rubbing ripe tomatoes on crusty bread with or with out a pinch of salt--no butter needed.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Ora

                      OMG, I *remember* that. It had a name, I can't remember what though. We ate it at every meal.

                      1. re: spigot

                        I know this as "pa amb tomaquet" in Barcelona.

                        1. re: cheryl_h

                          A perfect dish, especially with a bit of olive oil and next to some salty pig.

                          1. re: JudiAU

                            It's also really good with (good) anchovies (and better yet anchovies and roasted red peppers)... am salivating just thinking about it!

                            1. re: ali patts

                              Oh I could eat anything with boquerones, but your combination sounds divine.

                              1. re: cheryl_h

                                In Madrid, I fell in LOVE with boquerones fritos--whole ones, fried to a crisp, delicioso! Ole!

                    2. When we moved from the South to SF/Bay Area, I learned I didn't have fry everything until it was dead and then pour gravy over it. I now can steam, stir fry, and use olive oil instead of bacon grease.

                      1 Reply
                      1. In Greece I learned that feta cheese + honey is Olympian!

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: Glencora

                            Or yoghurt with honey and toasted walnuts! Aieeeee, it's good.

                        1. In Chile, I learned to put avocado on hot dogs. Also learned to put strawberries in sangria.

                          In Ecuador, I learned to cut up a banana into arroz con pollo. Also learned to put cheese in my hot chocolate.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Dave MP

                            Cheese in hot chocolate? What kind? Why? Please explain.

                            1. re: Glencora

                              I lived with a host family in Ecuador back in 1999 on a summer program in high school. I've been in touch with them since then, and I was actually there this past year too....so I've had this several times.

                              Anyway, on my first night at the homestay in 1999, we had a light dinner of homemade hot chocolate (real chocolate, milk, etc), lots of breads and rolls and good Ecuadoran cheese. My host father always gets a specific type of hard Andean cheese. It's a bit sharper than the typical Ecuadoran cheese (which can be found all over Ecuador, Peru, etc), but not by much. It's white, somewhat soft (texture of meunster cheese, actually comparable to meunster in terms of levels of sharpness and flavor). I didn't speak much Spanish at the time, but I saw everyone cutting up pieces of cheese and putting them in the hot chocolate...then after it had gotten nice and gooey and partially melted, scooping it out to eat it. So I did it too and really liked it.

                              I don't know if this is super common in Ecuador...I've seen other people do it, but mostly I've seen it with my host family. But either way, it's a great idea.

                              1. re: Dave MP

                                We consume white soft cow's milk cheese and chocolate milk in cooler areas of Colombia.

                          2. In Italy, to appreciate the nuances of "warm" soda.

                            1. On Ambergris Caye, I learned spicy, hot crispy little fish & roasted potatoes with eggs made for a terrific breakfast. In Greece, I learned a bowl of freshly made yogurt w/local honey and the house olives & platter of marinated octopus in olive oil, lemon & oregano were one of our favorite breakfast choices.

                              1. In the Midwest, I learned to use absolutely every part of an animal I shot while hunting -- ever have venison stock?

                                In France, I learned how to make salad dressing.

                                In Spain, I learned that the best seafood is the simplest -- grilled or steamed with herbs, olive oil, lemon juice and salt, maybe a teeny bit of garlic.

                                In Canada, I learned the wonders of maple syrup.

                                In Wyoming, I learned to go to dinner in Colorado whenever possible.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  "In the Midwest, I learned to use absolutely every part of an animal I shot while hunting -- ever have venison stock?"


                                  You don't really mean "every part" do you ...?

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Not necessarily in cooking, but yes, every single part. Including that one.

                                2. In Tanzania I learned that I love goat soup for breakfast.

                                  In Uganda I learned that fried grasshoppers are a fanastic snack with beer.

                                  And in Egypt I learned that beans for breakfast do not make me farty all day (but they do give me indigestion).

                                  As for what I still use from my travels in Africa... I now know that fresh is always best and the same goes for free renge. I also learned to love liver, and that it makes a really good stew.

                                  1. In Japan I learned that miso soup makes a wonderful breakfast.

                                    1. In New Zealand, for breakfast was served rolled up pancakes (thicker than crepes)with lemon juice and syrup.

                                      1. In Japan I learned that Japanese mayonnaise in the squeeze bottle can be used on just about anything.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: linlinchan

                                          I love added a finely grated clove of garlic to that mayonnaise for moules frites.

                                          In Southeast Asian, I learned to add raw grated/minced garlice to fried rice/noodles, veggies right when you turn the stove off to steep. The flavors along with the required fish sauce is unbelievable!

                                        2. In Sante Fe I discovered how good Green Chili Stew can be for breakfast.

                                          1. This is more of a technical tip, but cheese keeps best outside in the car as it's cooler than cheap motel rooms (that don't have fridges). The sam thing goes for ham (a leg of which I bought in VA, and drove back to TX with!

                                            1. England: panfried vegetables on toast (mmm mushrooms), that you can get nearly all your daily caloric needs fulfilled by strong beer

                                              Europe: using the plant growing in the ditch in food (leeks, ramps, mushrooms, & that Bulgarian wild herb that tastes vaguely of fresh oregano), Bernaise on fries, farmer's markets, fresh food each day, how to use the local gang of gypsy kids to get blackmarket booze in eastern Europe, always to try the local specialties & street food, wine with meals, cafe au lait and real French bread

                                              India: salt & pepper on fresh fruit in hot weather, how to add small amounts of liquid to a simmering sauce to carefully control the cooking temperature, how to judge a food's "doneness" by appearence and sounds made by cooking rather than tasting the food while fasting

                                              1. From Samoan and Tongan friends while living in the Philippines: the combination of steamed yams, taro, and cassava as the carb staple. Really good.