Restaurants

Eating Around The World with Laura Siciliano-Rosen

August 8, 2012

Laura and Scott in Dakar

GLOBAL – It’s no secret that here at The Purple Passport, we love to find the very best eats on our travels. So, it is only natural that we would be drawn to the fabulous website EatYourWorld.com, a guide to regional food and drinks around the globe founded on the principle that what you eat depends on where you are. We spoke to the editors about our food favorites on their blog last month, and today, we are excited to be publishing an interview with Co-Founder Laura Siciliano-Rosen. Here is what she has to say about our favorite pastime, eating!

Tell us a little about your site, and what inspired you to start it.

Eat Your World (http://eatyourworld.com) is a guide to regional foods and drinks around the globe. My husband, Scott, and I had the idea to create it while traveling around Colombia in late 2009. I was feeling a bit burned out on freelance travel writing; he on photography. We realized how obsessively we were already tracking down and photographing the local dishes of whatever city we were in, so we ran with that idea, and bought the domain name on the spot!

Local food—whether a traditional dish, a native fruit, or a regional microbrew you might not encounter elsewhere—is endlessly interesting to me, as it imparts so much about that destination in terms of culture, geography, history, and traditions. We therefore contextualize and explain the cultural significance of each dish we cover, recognizing the importance of culinary preservation—some of these foods might not be around for much longer, so we want to document and celebrate them. But we’re a (less nerdy!) travel tool at the end of the day, telling our fellow travelers exactly what a destination’s local dishes are and where to find them (plus how to burn them off), and inviting users to contribute their own local-food finds to our database.

In a nutshell, why do you travel?

For perspective, for education, for inspiration, for fun. Travel can represent an escape from people’s lives, but I feel that more often than not, it puts me into the real real world, well outside of my own little bubble of existence. I love the thrill of encountering this whole new set of possibilities and challenges; it’s incredibly energizing, and the buoyancy it creates always extends to life “back home”—travel never fails to give me new eyes. (It’s no coincidence that our website business was born while on the road!) Moreover, travel is educational in a way no classroom can ever be: You simply cannot underestimate the transformative power of consistently interacting with people of different cultures, of navigating foreign places, and, yes, of tasting new and strange foods!

What’s your dining philosophy on the road?

Neal's Yard's Stichelton (local cheese)

We’re all about the local food—that’s pretty clear on Eat Your World, right? We don’t discriminate based on type of establishment, and will usually seek out a good mix of street vendors, holes-in-the-wall, and high-end restaurants that all do some version of local food. Also, by “local food” we mean the traditional, typical stuff but also foods that are locally grown or sourced—we always look for restaurants that make an effort to source from local farms and producers. For example, in London we wanted to eat pie and mash but also locally made cheese; in Boston we ate authentic baked beans but also at Cambridge Brewing Company for its awesome house-made beers and locally sourced food.

Where are you now, and what’s the best (local) thing to eat there?

We’re in New York City, where we have lots of favorite local things to eat! All of them are in our NYC section, but my top three foods here are pizza, pastrami, and bagels with smoked salmon (from Russ & Daughters). Oh, and I love egg creams. That’s four!

On a micro level, the best local things in Jackson Heights, our very diverse neighborhood of Queens, include Colombian pan de bono, North Indian papri chaat, and Tibetan momos. Tasting those dishes would give you a pretty clear idea of who lives here!

What’s your favorite city for food, and why?

It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but San Sebastian, Spain, takes the cake. Basque food is just beautiful; the pintxos, or local tapas—which always make good use of the region’s abundant local produce, meats, and fresh seafood—are like little works of art. But more than that, the food culture there is so strong, it’s engrained in daily life. An evening tradition is to hop among pintxo bars for a few snacks, a short beer, and conversation. It’s a pretty ideal way to end a day.

You have friends traveling to your hometown. What iconic foods do you insist they eat there?

Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese

My adopted hometown is NYC, but I grew up on the Jersey Shore—not that far from the city, but with a whole new set of local foods. I would insist they try a classic pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich for breakfast, and then hit the boardwalk for pizza, funnel cake, and saltwater taffy. And definitely pick up some Jersey tomatoes, peaches, and corn when in season—they’re incredible!

Got any secrets for finding good food in a new destination?

Always! First check Eat Your World’s destinations map to see if we’ve covered the location yet—we’ve done the dirty work on more than 30 places, from New Orleans to New Delhi. But generally speaking, do some research: Start with any friends or friends-of-friends who live or have been to where you’re going; ask for recommendations on Facebook and Twitter; look up some local blogs in your destination. When you arrive, talk to people! Taxi drivers, restaurant staff, the woman on line next to you at the bakery—everyone will have suggestions for you. And finally, if you see a street vendor doing very brisk business, get on that line! It’s probably going to be amazing food.

All photos courtesy of www.eatyourworld.com

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