When vicarious eating becomes real

bangers and mash

In many different posts over the past three years I have mentioned traveling vicariously through cooking. Cookbooks and recipe blogs allows us to experience foods - or at least their approximation - of places we'll likely never to get to visit. Sometimes, however, we are fortunate enough to visit these locations and experience the food firsthand. Then we can finally judge the home cooked versions to see how close they came to the 'real thing'. 

The food doesn't have to be exotic for this to happen. I recently had the good fortune to travel to England and Scotland. This trip wasn't culinary in purpose (it was an anniversary trip), although my husband noted that I was more concerned about food and grocery stores than any other type of shop. I did not intend to use this vacation to make comparisons about foods I cooked at home versus their 'genuine' counterparts, but it happened nonetheless. 

It can be difficult to know what the flavor profile or texture of a food is supposed to be without having anything to compare it to. I've made versions of bangers and mash many times, using whatever sausages I had on hand. But until I ate them at a few pubs in England, I had no idea of whether the sausages and gravy I used at home were similar to those in the UK. The short answer is no, although each pub seemed to use a different brand or type. However, now I have a new quest to find - or get a recipe for - Cumberland sausage, which was the favorite of all I tried.

I'd love to hear your experiences of vicarious-turned-real food travel and how your home cooked versions of dishes compared to those you ate at your destination, whether good or bad. Maybe you picked up pointers to bring with you or perhaps you preferred your own version. Either way, please share your stories. 

Photo of Prestigious bangers and mash from  Great British Chefs - Blog Recipes


  • Jane  on  9/17/2016 at 12:20 AM

    The first night I was in Buenos Aires last year we went out to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and had empanadas and Malbec. It was fantastic - great pastries, delicious wine, wonderful music and cost about $20 total for 2. Everything was great - the service, the food, the wine - could not be replicated anywhere else. Travel definitely gives you experiences that you cannot get at home!

  • sir_ken_g  on  9/17/2016 at 10:05 AM

    I think it depends. I try to get ethnic cookbooks that are written by natives - who live in the US and so they are familiar with what is possible in the way of ingredients. And I have a list of special stores. Sometimes I get pretty close.

  • Rinshin  on  9/17/2016 at 11:27 AM

    Sometimes it's the different air we breath and mysterious sights we encounter which makes for unforgettable experiences with food we eat.

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