Good Food Blog
Eating locally abroadPosted at 3:40PM, 28 July 2009 by Emily Boyce - Sub-editor, bbcgoodfood.com
When I plan a holiday, I don't make a list of must-see sights or agonise over beachwear. I don't choose destinations based on museum count or buzzing nightlife. No, I'm really only interested in what I'll be eating, which is why more often than not I end up in Italy.
And while I'm there, eating well is an obsession that can make or break the holiday. Take my trip to Sicily last summer. While Palermo's noise and grime were a bit of a disappointment, turning the corner from the hotel we chanced upon a rustic joint with no indoor seating, just plastic tables and chairs in the street. Super-fresh squid, prawns and miscellaneous fish were being flung on a huge grill by a rotund Sicilian and delivered to tables by his equally portly sons. My enjoyment of a ridiculously good value mixed seafood grill was enhanced by feeling thoroughly smug about having stumbled into this authentic scene all by myself.
Why is it that even though we pick places from guides, we're horrified when we're not the only tourists in there?
The next night we searched out a place that had been recommended in the guidebook for its spaghetti with lobster. As we approached, I heard English-speaking voices and spied a copy of our guidebook on a table, instantly crushing my illusions of fitting in with the locals. Why is it that even though we pick places from guides, we're horrified when we're not the only tourists in there? A hawker hovering in the doorway attempting to lure us in was the final straw.
I insisted on looking elsewhere, only to end up at a distinctly average restaurant sulking over a distinctly average bowl of pasta con le sarde. While my boyfriend chomped his way through it quite happily, I was devastated at a precious night of good eating missed.
Do you spend your holidays seeking out only the finest and most authentic culinary experiences? Or do you relax and go with the flow? What's been your best (or worst) foodie holiday experience?