I love pursuing new experiences when I travel, usually to the delight of my taste buds. But when I think about my favorite food finds—falafel from a café in Barcelona, a gozleme (Turkish crepe) along the Mediterranean coast—I realize that the food itself is never terribly adventurous. Rather, it’s the whole experience that leaves such a pleasing taste in my mouth.
The falafel was eaten among newly-made Canadian friends at a hole-in-the-wall off of Las Ramblas. The gozleme came after a long day of exploring ancient city ruins in Olympos and I watched the woman make it from scratch, right down to the dough. So while saying that the best meal I ever ate abroad was a plate of pasta with pesto sauce sounds boring, there’s more to it than meets the mouth.
Before going to Rome, my friend who lived there told me about her favorite restaurant. It took an hour of hungry wandering to find the dimly-lit, speck of a café that was only given away by a small sign in the window.
The enchanting smells of hot pasta and wine hit my nose immediately and my hunger level catapulted to ravenous. An older woman beckoned me to a table with her hand, immediately putting bread in front of me. She must’ve recognized the half-starved look that comes with a day spent traversing an entire city. The pesto was phenomenal—salty, the freshest basil, and just the right amount of olive oil. The wine flowed freely and I spent most of the night at the cozy café, reveling in the warm atmosphere and full belly. It was contentment at its most tangible and I’ll never forget it—or the garlicky taste that lingered on my tongue and eludes me to this day.
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Photo source: The Marmot (cc)