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Dine as the Locals Dine
5 Sep

Dine as the Locals Dine

Travel is all about new experiences, exploring, visiting places you’ve dreamt about, stumbling across something you’ve never heard of. I love finding out about local life and traditions and a big part of that is discovering and trying the local cuisine, doing as the locals do.

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There is something very special about stopping off at a bar for Cicchetti in Venice, stood alongside a gondolier sipping a Bellini cocktail after a long day’s work. Joining the Madrileños in the Mercado de San Miguel for tapas and a glass of Rioja.

I will never forget the aroma of the spices filling the air as I entered the Khan el-Khalili bazaar in Cairo, every now and again I will pick up a smell or a flavour and be instantly transported back there. Or the time I was traveling from Rome to Florence by train and was reading a James Bond novel where Ian Fleming describes one of Bond’s favourite meals as being a Spaghetti Bolognese accompanied by a cheap harsh Chianti! That was it…I had to have that when I arrived in Florence. Eating Spaghetti Bolognese, with a very nice glass of Chianti in the shadow of the Santa Maria del Fiore…wow!
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Some places really take their food seriously, everybody knows about the French but Spain takes the win in my book, after all, does anywhere else have a museum of ham?

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Some countries have a real flair for the dramatic when it comes to meal times. If you have ever experienced a Greek meze you will know where I am coming from. Every dish from the menu is announced and presented to you, filling the table, with a real sense of pride over the quality and flavours. Sat in a village taverna surrounded by olive groves and grapevines, the food washed down by a carafe of the local wine, a must for me every time I visit Cyprus.


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Or how about dining out in St Mark’s Square, Venice, with St Mark’s Basilica and the Campanile providing the backdrop serenaded by a violin and Piano concert? Does dining come any more theatrical than this?

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It is also about the people, I have lost count of the number of times I have asked a question to someone in a bar or restaurant and gained a real insight about the area I’m in.

But it’s not often you go on holiday and don’t see a black board advertising an English breakfast, or stumble across an Irish themed pub. I even managed to find one in Sighisoara (Dracula’s/Vlad Tepes’ birthplace) in Romania! However, as the saying goes, if you don’t try… you’ll never know! You just might create some really special memories.

Thomas Widdows