kmvet72, your travel strategy definitely requires going out of your comfort zone, but with a big (delicious) payoff! You certainly don't have to be Anthony Bourdain or Alton Brown (or Steven Raichlen
) to get into the kitchens of locals!
Thanks. glad you enjoyed my idea.
I have a few tips to make it a bit closer to the "comfort zone". This is probably more useful in South America, Central America, and Mexico, but it's also a good start before you go any where.
1. Respect the people and place you plan to visit. Spend a few hours learning about the history, culture, and government. You don't need to be a expert, but and afternoon on the internet will make your trip more rewarding.
2. Learn a few key phrases in the local language. At the least be able to say: (in order of importance) "I am sorry", (hope you don't need it) "I need help", "thank you","please", "Do you speak English?", "I do not understand", "Do you know some one who speaks some English", and "Excuse me". If you can, learn a few more.
3.Talk to the high school age kids. Many countries require a year or two of English, and the teenagers often enjoy getting to practice with a native speaker. In a lot of places the kids know that being your interpreter is a valuable service, so money, literally, talks. Don't be a cheapskate! On more than one trip my teenage interpreter/guide was the best money I spent. Ask to meet his/her family, Mom or Grandma probably know how to cook what you are looking to learn about. *DON"T DO THIS IF YOU ARE TRAVELING BY YOURSELF. I almost got arrested in Turkey, and spent about 7 hours of my day off explaining to the police that I just wanted a guide/interpreter. The kid told them as much, but I had to wait till the state department sent the Turkish police a statement that I have no criminal record (not a sex offender), my wife even got a call. The most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me
4. There are stupid questions, don't ask them. I was on a tour in Jamaica that went to the Walkers Wood Jerk factory. On the way back the bus was in traffic, and we passed a group of children in school uniforms. little kids from about 5-10 years old. The guide explained that each school had a uniform to help keep track of the kids, and a woman on the tour asked "do you have collages in Jamaica".
Do not be that woman! It may be a culture you don;t know well, but don't ask a question that might be insulting.
5. Always keep in mind that you are the the face of the U.S.A. be polite, be nice, be humble, and do your best to make a good impression. You will make mistakes, that is why I rank "I'm sorry" as the most important phrase to learn.
On my soap box, U.S.citizens need to travel out of the country more often, and more widely. When you make a friend in another country it makes the world less black & white. You have another perspective of things, and IMHO makes you a better person. Off soap box.
BBQ is the oldest way of cooking, Food over fire. every culture has some form of it. So travel, learn, and enjoy.
Best to all
P.S. sorry that got a little long winded, hope at least some one finds it useful.