I am not an excellent cook. Nor can I tell you the names of the top Michelin starred restaurants (perhaps more to do with my inability to remember the names of anything). But, I would definitely consider myself to be a foodie.
Not a food snob mind. Those are two entirely different things. One appreciates good quality, nicely presented food and the other only eats in places that sound like a font and that serve plates drizzled in evaporated jus. So no, not a food snob exactly – although I do love a deconstructed dish.
My inner foodie has only arisen in the last few years and although influenced by London living, this is mostly due to my foreign adventures.
After travelling around Thailand almost 4 years ago, I got over my fear of seafood and grudge against Asian flavours by practically being forced to live off rice and spicy curries (I only got food poisoning once, hurrah!). It opened my eyes to an entire new cuisine that I’d stayed away from and brought out a curious, less fearful character. I learnt to make my own spring rolls in a traditional cooking lesson (even if mine were the worst) and found an addiction to pad Thai and green curry.
Back home I surprised my Dad ordering cod in a restaurant before running off to Italy for two weeks and coming home a red wine convert. 14 days spent travelling from Florence to Venice, I developed my adoration for Italian food, eating the best authentic meals from family restaurants and using fresh local ingredients to whip up fresh dishes in our Veronian apartment.
I tried calamari for the first time. And loved it. I was a new person.
Within a few weeks I was whipping up fresh pasta with my new pasta machine and cooking a 3 course meal for my family from scratch. I even made my own pesto. Who was this girl?! A year ago she only just about knew how to fry an egg!
Suddenly my Friday evenings spent scoffing dough balls in Pizza Express turned into Come Dine With Me nights with my girls. I learnt to cook a full on roast dinner, used my Thai cook book and learnt what the f seasoning is. This new found appreciation for food outside of mainstream chains and bars of Dairy Milk had become a way of life.
My travels around Southern Africa led me to discover sushi, one of my FAVOURITE cuisines and for the first time I went wine tasting and became entranced by the world of fermented grapes, buying bottles to age at home.
I drank more red wine that year then the cast of Cougar Town.
Since then I’ve become the girl that will try anything… as long as it’s already peeled and doesn’t have eyes. I’m always reading about London’s newest openings, learning about the top chefs and crossing off independent restaurants from an ever-growing list. I’m not saying that I don’t ever eat in chains – dough balls will always be my weakness – but now I’m looking for places that serve those authentic flavours that I discovered in their homelands.
My travels are now influenced by food, as I look for the best restaurants in each destination before I even consider top sights or museum tours. And I’ve found a new love and excitement for cooking which I never ever had before. I actually enjoy hosting dinner parties and being creative with food. I’ve even begun to imagine myself in our future home, sweating over one of those cute freestanding range cookers, stirring a pot of my delicious traditional pomodoro pasta whilst the kids lay the table snacking on homemade garlic bread that I just whipped up earlier.
If you’d have told university Eppie that one day she’d be eating raw fish dipped in wasabi and be able to cook up a Sunday roast… she’d have probably spat her tuna pasta out in laughter.
I’d love to know your thoughts! Has travel influenced your taste buds? Was there something you didn’t like until you went travelling? Let me know in the comments below!
This post was written in collaboration with Belling.