It is not really hard to understand why some people feel a bit worried about sampling the array of strange and unusual foreign food they may encounter while traveling abroad.
In general, the further away from your usual environment you get, the more exotic and strange the foods on offer will seem. For others it is an exciting chance to try something new, but for the picky eater it can be difficult to overcome their inhibitions.
The following tips will help you deal with this situation, and hopefully make the vacation experience an enjoyable and fully satisfying one. After all, you shouldn’t have to miss out just because you have a finicky travel companion!
Traveling Abroad with a Picky Eater
1. Take it easy
If you throw somebody into the culinary pool at the deep end without warning, there’s a good chance that the outcome won’t be a good one. It’s better to take things slow and steady, easing into things with small, simple tastes of snack items or things that aren’t completely unrecognizable.
2. Have some idea of what you’re offering
If you can name and describe the food (including what’s in it), this can help to calm down any serious worries the other person may have. One of the main problems for picky eaters is that they’re unsure of the ingredients in the food, and simply knowing that something is just made from beans, rice flour and spices may be all it takes to get them to try it.
3. Never try to force the issue
This whole problem is about trust, so the worst thing you can do is make somebody feel more insecure by trying to force them to try something they’re really not keen on. It will just make them less open to trying something else, or they’ll be so upset they won’t really enjoy the experience. Then what would happen is it creates a negative association, so they will believe they were right to try and avoid the food in the first place.
4. Try to make the first experience of the most exotic foods to be in the least exotic places
Sure, it’s more fun to try authentic hawker food from a street stall in the market, but for picky eaters that may be a bridge too far. Instead, it can be more sensible to first introduce the food item in a more refined environment such as a hotel restaurant. Yes, it will probably be inauthentic and over-priced, but this “safe” introduction to the new food may give them more confidence to try the same thing again in a more exotic location.
5. Don’t forget, they may be right!
Unfortunately, it’s true that picky eaters actually have a valid point. Every year, thousands of travelers become ill from trying foods that their body really isn’t ready to handle. The vast majority of times, this is no big deal, but occasionally there can be more serious consequences. In some cases you can be eligible for compensation by making a holiday illness claim if the worst happens, which is actually another good reason why it can sometimes be a little smarter to opt for the hotel rather than the street stall.