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Mar 10, 2008 04:12 PM

Most addictive cuisines?

Tourists are notorious for seeking food they are used to, while they are travelling.
Which countries or regions are most guilty of lacking a sense of adventure when it comes to choosing dinner away from home? Are they addicted to their own cuisine?

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  1. I wouldn't want to make any general statements, but I'd say it's a tossup between Americans and Germans. This is only after witnessing the behavior of an admittedly small number of the latter, and my experiences traveling with the former. And it must be said that those Americans were US military people who were not in Italy because they wanted to be...but on a bus trip to Rome I was thrilled to learn that we'd scored dinner reservations at a convent/restaurant I had read about, run by a bunch of gourmet-cooking nuns. I was SO looking forward to it...and then word swept through the group that someone had located a Chinese restaurant, and they all voted to cancel the convent meal! I was traveling with my mom and my sister (who was married to an Air Force guy, who incidentally HATED Italian food), and we just stayed behind and ate in the hotel restaurant.

    All of the German tourists I encountered in France and Italy looked as though they'd come down on a bus just so they could openly despise everything. I can't decide which trait made them stand out in the crowd more, their sour looks or the mostly unfortunate clothing... I know it's not necessarily a cultural thing, as my grandfather was of German Mennonite stock, the first in his family to marry "English", and he was as adventurous and omnivorous an eater as they come.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Will Owen

      Its interesting... when I was a teeny bopper in Mexico City... we always knew how to spot the German tourists... they would be sitting on some park bench eating Sandwiches, packaged snacks & drinks.

      The English were unmistakable... because everything they saw they compared back to something in England.

      The French were the ones who looked for the least expensive options, dug right into a bowl of Pancita, Lengua, Cesos.... and were the worst tippers.

      The Spaniards were cheap, dug into everything... but the most likely to complain about spicy condiments.

      Of course cultures change... and our last couple of trips to the Yucatan & Peru we happen to spend time with a lot of young German tourists... and they came across as the most embracing, open minded, fun loving tourists I have ever encountered.

    2. I've noticed a lot of Chinese tour buses going to Chinese restaurants. One incident in particular, we were in Venice, Italy and we noticed a large group of Chinese tourists come out of a Chinese restaurant and enter their tour bus.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Blueicus

        I've noticed that a lot too, but it usually happens only with Chinese tour groups, not tourists visiting a country on their own. It seems that tour companies make a deal with certain Chinese restaurants that will offer tour groups meals at a low price. The tourists may not like the food, but sadly it's part of the tour package.

      2. How disappointing. I thought this was going to be a thread on which cuisines were most addictive... to me. In which case I would have voted for sichuan, closely followed by thai and vietnamese. And then maybe southern.

        If it's which nationalities/tourists are most addicted to their own cuisine, and thus do not eat the local fare when abroad, well then I'd have to vote for the Indians (Asian, not US). They travel the world, and bring their own chef. Not everyone of course, but the travel groups I've known about definitely fit the bill.

        2 Replies
        1. re: litchick

          That's a fun interpretation of this question - "which cuisines are the most addictive to you?" Chowhounds, the exact antitheses of these impervious tourist types uninterested in local offerings, would come up with many exotic cuisines that may, in fact, be addictive.

          One point I should add - if people insist on their own cuisine, aren't they really proud of it, and are refusing to let it go even when abroad?

          1. re: grocerytrekker

            I like this question. I get addicted to Middle Eastern food. One good bite of hummus and the craving sets in and I can eat it every day for 2 week stretches at a time.

        2. It was my first day in Paris. My aunt/uncle drove us (Mom and I) down from Germany where they live. I was so excited to eat at a Parisian restaurant for my first time and where does my aunt take us...a Chinese restaurant b/c in Germany where they live, there are no good Chinese places. I don't think it is b/c they are addicted, just b/c it is hard to find good stuff back in Germany for them, whereas in CA we have an abundance of great places to choose from.

          1. What a strange question. First of all, people traveling go for their own cuisine not because they're addicted to it, but rather because they want a level of comfort, when they're otherwise uncomfortable with their environment. And usually, it's when they're traveling over long periods of time, or when they're stuck somewhere for an extended period of time. For instance, the Israelis who live in the Los Angeles area largely go for Israeli-type food. They've left what they know in order to pursue a more affluent life, but the Israeli food helps to anchor them, and that's why there are so many Israeli-type restaurants around. But probably, if they were just on a short trip to, say southeast Asia, they would go strongly for exposing themselves to the indigenous food.

            I would say that for me, there are 3 basic cuisines I feel strongly attracted to to the point of addiction, only one of which is a typical merican cuisine, though I'm all American, and that would be BBQ, and the smokier, the better. But I also find myself addicted to northern Italian cuisine, and specifically to the dairy components such as cheese (I could eat Parmesan continuously, for instance), butter and oil. And almost any southeast Asian cuisine for the third. I don't see how anyone could be addicted to German food (although the beer and wines I could understand), and French food, though regional and exciting at first, eventually gets boring (though I could eat various cheeses forever).