first world problems

• 16 comments •

Another lunch and another chicken tagine - it was so inexpensive I felt like I was stealing the meal. On this day, we wanted to eat at kosybar but they were closed until dinner, so we pulled out the Lonely Planet guide and found that Restaurant Place Des Ferblantiers was also located in the same courtyard. I looked around, noticed the flies on the pile of bread and the cats eating the scraps, and assumed that I'd likely get sick from eating there but didn't want to be a downer and tried to be enthusiastic. I was pleasantly surprised - the food was great (and we didn't get sick). So, all my fretting was for not.

Have you seen the movie, Babel? There's a part in the movie that I thought of a lot during our previous travels. Cate Blanchett's character is on vacation (incidentally, in Morocco) and she's complaining to her husband about how she isn't enjoying the trip, she looks around at the other tourists and gets annoyed, and then orders a diet coke instead of the local food. I watched that movie in 2006 and I hadn't traveled to many places at that point. I wondered why she was being so miserable and thought that she was a snob for not being open to new experiences. Anyway, there's a point to this (besides that you should really see the movie if you haven't). While traveling through Mexico and Central America, we tried a lot of new foods and got sick a lot. I still cringe thinking about the days I spent in bed with the worst stomach pains of my life. Now, when we get served food, I'm mindful of temperatures, inspect hands, straws, cutlery etc..., and carry around sanitizing wipes - basically I'm nervous and paranoid. I often wonder if I've become that bitchy character or if I'm just being practical so that I can enjoy and make the most of my limited vacation time. I make an effort to eat local cuisine because, to me, it's an important part of travel... but still worry that I might be missing out on some "authentic" experiences - whatever that means. I'm curious, when you're on vacation, do you just dive right in, without caring about the consequences, or are you more cautious?

- Mina


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16 comments

  1. I've been living in West Africa for 19 months so you have to throw a certain caution to the wind or you'd starve. But, with that being said, I'm always aware and try to stick with the best possible options and if all else fails, I keep a healthy stock of pepto and immodium nearby.

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  2. Marla18.2.12

    Sorry this has nothing to do with your post I don't travel much so I don't have much to offer but I was wondering what blush you use? Your cheeks are always so rosy! Lol. Is that a weird thing to say?

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  3. I tend to dive right in - the only thing I shy away from is the tap water. I've actually been extremely lucky, and (knock on wood) I don't really get sick when on the road. I kind of just eat/drink everything and hope for the best.

    THAT BEING SAID...the one time I got ridiculously ill and then had a virus for weeks and weeks was in Morocco! I believe it was from eating all of the street food and drinking orange juice from the stalls in Djemaa el Fna, but who knows...

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  4. I do a bit of both. I'm a vegetarian so a lot of food I choose not to eat for that reason. Otherwise, I tend to go for it. I've only been sick traveling once (Peru) and I have no clue what did it. Most of my food poisoning experience happened during my first year in Abu Dhabi so I'm hoping that's made me tougher!

    It seems like you have a good balance of being cautious (so you can enjoy your trip), and trying new things.

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  5. Being vegetarian I find I don't have to worry so much, plus I think I've got a bit of an iron gut. By the end of six weeks in India years ago all my friends and I wanted was vegemite and toast for breakfast, luckily toast is pretty universal and we had a couple of travel tubes of vegemite :)

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  6. I watched that movie in 2006 just a month after my trip in Morocco and I had the same feeling you had. I'm lucky I don't get sick during trips so I experiment a lot! Recently I spent two months in east Africa and I was fine the all time.
    Your posts inspired me a lot and today, for sunday brunch, I had couscous too! Thank you guys!

    http://michiphotobooth.com/2012/02/19/couscous-adventures/

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  7. Like Maggie, I'm a veggie, so I'm lucky that I never have to worry about uncooked or spoiled meat products. I tend to dive right in without thinking. I've been sick a few times, but I guess I've just accepted that's a part of traveling. I tend to get sick when I return from my trips rather than on the road thankfully. Love these pics!

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  8. i think you raise such a great point/ question. i have never seen the movie you write about, but definetly think you are right to be somewhat cautious when trying authentic foods in different countries. you never know, ya know? and especially since you have experience and have gotten sick before. i have never been sick from eating in a diff country, but i definetly drink only bottled water and out of straws and only bottles that are opened in front of me, etc... about food, i think its important to try local cuisine and its hard to be so cautious when its something new anyways, i think it should be a good balance of trying "known" restaurants and hole-in-the-walls.

    Miyan
    www.miyan-overseas.blogspot.com

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  9. Oh, I think I have eaten in the same restaurant... We also wanted to go to Kosybar and ended up there ;) But really liked their vegetarian tangine!
    Anyway, I am not particular careful when traveling with food - more with drinks actually (no tab water, no ice in drinks) and I also don't eat raw food much. Luckily have only been sick once while traveling...

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  10. i appreciate everyone's input. you'd think being a vegetarian would help but we've been sick from stewed vegetables and cheese pizzas, soooo.... it must be my weak stomach. marla, i use ambering rose by mac.

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  11. I dove right in on my first trip out of the country to Argentina and when I came home I became lactose intolerant.:( So now I watch the milk products out of the country and bring my lactose pills, imodium, and pepto. I also watch food cooked in tons of oil because I got sick from eating something oily in South America. BUT I will continue to dive in with an open mind because you can't go to another country and not try the local food. And in my opinion, local food is WAY better than eating at a touristy restaurant. I say follow your gut when it concerns eating the local way.

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  12. I enjoy eating the local foods (mostly) because its fun for me and enhances my enjoyment of the trip. Lucky for me, I rarely get sick.
    That said, I think some travelers put a bit too much pressure on themselves (or others) - if someone just doesn't happen to enjoy a particular type of cuisine, they are treated like they are some kind of stick in the mud for wanting to eat something within their comfort zone. People should just enjoy their vacation time in whatever way that works for them. Choking down something you hate isn't necessary to make a good trip - you can experience the culture in other ways too. So I can go either way on the subject.

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  13. You have raised a very interesting point, Mina! I am always for local food (if possible). That is how I ended with amebiasis in Egypt n 2006, who-knows-what in Brazil in 2007 and shigellosis in India last December:P Fortunately, I always seem to be home by the time I have to be admitted into hospital!! Yay, great adventures as a doctor...but I guess it let me experience what it is to be a patient once in a while =)

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  14. lovely pictures
    xx, your newest follower

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  15. I'm cautious, perhaps overly so. But I'd rather protect myself from getting sick and having a lousy trip! I think it's always wise to be careful!

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  16. Great topic! I eat everything and have never been sick. Your Morocco travel photographer is really nice, brings me back.

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