Ever experience the best memory or your life and feel nostalgic and a little sad about it when it’s over? And then, years later, you smell something that instantly sends you back to that time – a perfume, a candle, or even the distinct smell that occupied your grandmother’s basement? Scent is magic that way. In one second, it can transport you back to a time that you’ve cherished and long forgotten. Not only can you remember it, but you almost feel like you’re there – you can picture what you said, how you felt, the hug of a person around you, the guttural laughter you experienced. It’s pretty incredible.
In so many ways, food works the same. Cooking somebody a meal can seem like something normal and mundane, but in fact, it is the way we all connect. Regardless of your cultural background or race, every family in our world thrives on a deep connection to food. People travel from afar to experience food – the scent of it, the authenticity of it, the kindness of it. Some of my favourite reflections on trips, which are also some of the best moments of my life, are centred on the decadent scent of a meal. Because I was feeling a little bit wistful, I thought it would be a great opportunity to reflect on some of these incredible meals I’ve experienced.
Pizza in Trastevere, Rome
I’m half-Italian, so pizza is nothing new to me. But I think of this moment is when I really understood the difference of eating pizza in Rome and pizza anywhere else in the world. This pizza was seriously mouth-watering. The beauty of the Trastevere neighbourhood in Rome is that it’s out of the way, rustic, and rich in culture. The food is insane. The nightlife is even better. Put those together, with some gorgeous lighting and warm, summer air? It’s the best. We ordered two pizzas – one which was simply tomato and mozzarella, and the other mozzarella and white and black truffle. It was to die for, I tell you! I dream of this pizza even now!
Paella on La Ramblas in Barcelona
Barcelona was a special trip for our family because, while we wanted to visit the city, we were there at the request of a family member who passed away. It was almost like he knew that something about the air in the city and the vibe on the beach would bring us closer together. That first day exploring the famed shopping strip of La Ramblas was incredible. The street was bustling with tourists and artists, but it wasn’t chaotic. We sat down on one of the patios to enjoy some lunch, and that is where I had my first taste of true paella and sangria and it was so worth the wait. There is nothing comparable to eating paella in the city that made it famous. The rich flavours, the seafood, the sharp sangria – all of it was perfect. I wish I knew how to recreate!
Pimm’s and Sangria in The Borough Market
In other posts about London, I’ve talked about how much I love The Borough Market and the entire area of Southbank. The best part of this area is that it is totally normal to enjoy a meal and a drink while you’re out on a patio, sitting by the Thames, or wandering around enjoying the sights. The first thing I did was find the little stall that sold Pimm’s and sangria. It’s the perfect cold, delicious accompaniment to sip on when enjoying beautiful weather in this culturally rich neighbourhood. Plus, at only one or two pounds each, it makes an inexpensive way to refresh before trekking through the rest of London.Pictured is my best friend enjoying her own glass of sangria while we wandered the winding paths of the Borough Market. While you’re in the market, you may as well order some food – they have excellent to-go options in just about any cuisine.
Mussels at Eeusk in Oban, Scotland
In our visit to Glasgow in March of 2016, our number one must-see were the Highlands. We couldn’t see more of Scotland, a country we adore, without seeing what made it famous! We took a bus tour around Loc Lomond, which lead us through Glencoe, Oban and Inveraray and fell even more in love with Scotland. On a lunch break, our bus driver gave us a couple hours to check out Oban – the beautiful coastal town – which just happens to be Scotland’s seafood capital. We chose Eeusk as our lunch spot – an adorable seafood joint with gigantic windows – and enjoyed mussels in a light wine sauce overlooking Oban Bay. The entire experience was surreal, and it was my first time eating mussels. Needless to say, I loved them! And, it just sent me into a further love affair with Scotland. They were seriously delicious.
It’s funny how easily I can think back to the moment when I see these pictures and think of these meals and smells. As I said, there’s something particularly personal and emotional about food. It almost indicates a way to care for another person – and I certainly felt welcomed and cared for on all of these trips!
Naturally, I couldn’t leave my list at 4, so keep an eye out for the remaining 5 food experiences which I’ll post later in the week.
What are your favourite meals while traveling? I’d love to add some to my bucket list!