Travelling as a Picky Eater

If you know me, you know that I’m a picky eater. I’ve always made an attempt to try new things, but there are a lot of common ingredients which I just can’t stand.  On top of things like spicy food and fish, I also don’t eat common vegetables like mushrooms, onions, or peppers that are common in dishes around the world. So, what do I do as a constant traveller? Well, I make do. I haven’t starved yet, though my diet is a lot less interesting then most. Almost every country has at least one or two staple starches that I can rely on for calories (but usually not flavour).  Some of the usual suspects are bread, potatoes, noodles, pasta, or rice. In some countries, like Ghana, they like to serve two to three carbs on every plate, which works perfectly for me! All the foodies of the world are probably shaking their head in dismay that I travel to wonderful exotic places but don’t enjoy all the foods that they would love to try. Sorry guys! I wish I loved eating spicy curries, and that I could shove any empanada in my mouth without worrying about the contents – but it’s just not my cup of tea!

Check out my latest blog on Expat Coffee Club (Picky Eater in a Strange Land) to see what it’s like to travel as a picky eater and read below for an excerpt:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve only eaten simple foods. If you ask me what I don’t like… well, it’s probably easier for me to tell you what I do like. I explain to people that I eat like a four-year old, so whatever your little niece or nephew likes, I probably do too. People laugh and think I’m joking, but then I list the foods I don’t eat and they stop laughing. “Huh, you were serious…”.  I mostly eat a lot of bread and cheese, in various forms. When I tried to ask my Spanish teacher what the right word would be, she just said difficult. I guess it’s appropriate but doesn’t feel great. :p

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. I can cook, and my boyfriend is a good cook, and we eat a lot of meals at home with the ingredients I like. He makes food for me and then adds extra stuff for himself like hot sauce or mushrooms. In Canadian restaurants, I can always find something I like. When I’m travelling, or living in another country… that’s a different story!

Ghana was the first time I had lived in a “non-western” country for an extended period of time. For those of you who don’t know, Ghana is on the coast in western Africa. This means that the food is spicy, fermented, and there’s lots of fish – not exactly my favourites! While my colleagues were ripping of pieces of fermented dough like fufu to dip in their spicy peanut sauce or grab a hunk of tilapia (a white fish), I was learning how to eat with my hands. I had to emphasize to restaurants that “No, I don’t want any of that extremely spicy black sauce. No, not even a little. Yes, I know it’s boring without it.” They would laugh at me for eating “baby food” but serve me plain rice with chicken anyway. I ended up eating a plastic bag of plain rice with a hard-boiled egg, and maybe a small piece of chicken every day for lunch. Fortunately, I had my own kitchen so I could eat anything I wanted at home. Unfortunately, there were constant power outages and I had a major ant problem in my house so I ate a lot of staples – like pasta. I had to keep all my food on a table in the kitchen so the ants couldn’t find it. One time, I tried to eat some leftover vegetables and chicken that had been in the fridge during the daily black-outs – it was my first time getting food poisoning, and I gave it to myself. How embarrassing!

If you want to read about a few other places I visited, you can read the whole blog at the link below:

Picky Eater in a Strange Land

About Amanda

Hi, I’m Amanda! Originally from Ottawa, Canada, I am currently living with my partner (Steve) in Sucre, Bolivia for the next year. I work in the unique space between industrial design and international development – but what does that even mean? I’m passionate about working WITH marginalized communities in a way that utilizes design to improve the lives of different types of people around the world. I have worked, studied, traveled, and researched on every continent (except Antarctica), and most recently I lived in Ghana, Bangladesh and Nepal. I love exploring new cultures and learning more about myself along the way.
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