Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I have no memory for food

I've mentioned before that I'm not a foodie. I live in New York City, so I don't have to travel to enjoy a world-class meal (Cassie's latest find: Luz, right here in Clinton Hill). But whether I'm dining in Paris or Paso Robles, I can barely remember what I ate the night before, no matter how amazing the meal was. For me, travel isn't about the food, so while I might sample some of the most fantastic cuisine I've ever tasted, it's the people and the experience that will stick with me.

In Torino, for example, I remember that I enjoyed the most delicious meals of my six-week tour of Italy, but I'll be damned if I can recall what I ate. It's the beautiful architecture that stands out from that visit. The high point of my trip to London last November was a three-course meal that Cassie and I ate with her brother and sister-in-law. But it's the good times we had with each other, not the food that we ate (quail, I think? I do remember the limoncello) that stuck with me. And I know I ate well last time I went to Hawaii, but the memories I have come from the priceless time spent with family members I see too rarely.

That's not to say I remember nothing that I eat. I'll never forget the succulent whole fried fish I ate in a nondescript food stand outside Tegucigalpa in Honduras, an experience that makes me want to order the same thing anytime I see it on a menu. The most amazing calamari—my favorite seafood—that I've ever tasted was found far from the ocean, in Chicago of all places. And, as embarrassing as it is to admit that an appetizer from a chain restaurant made such an impact on me, I can taste the improbably juicy fried zucchini sticks at San Diego's Claim Jumper whenever I summon them from my memory.

So just because you don't often find me raving about this restaurant or that meal doesn't mean I don't appreciate fine cuisine or that I dine at McDonald's. And I'm not suggesting that I'm above people who are foodies, like my friends and Yelp aficionados Michael and Carlton. It's just that, when it comes to travel, food is the fuel for my experiences, not the objective.

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