I live to travel and travel to eat. The thrill of going to a new place and exploring its traditions, cultures and landscapes is the only thing that matches my appetite for…well, discovering its cuisine. In fact, food is often the sole basis of my choosing a destination, with Mercado de La Boqueria taking a higher spot on the priority list than the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona; Queen of Tarts in Dublin a better reason to return than the endless rainbows over fields of kelly green.
But the world is big and beautiful, and seeing all of it is a challenge I’ve long accepted, which makes preparing for a trip rather tricky. Old habits die hard, and as a history major — and a militantly thorough Type A-personality — months of research go into each adventure, culminating in lists on as many as 17 single-spaced pages of restaurants, cafes, food stalls and markets to visit, plus each city or town’s must-have, traditional, non-touristic dish to complete my search for the ultimate authentic experience.
Why? Well, with so many wonderful things to see, smell, touch and taste in every corner of the world, and limited vacation time and budget, I know I may not be able to return. So I to make sure that when I do check a destination off my bucket list, I do it right. It’s important to find the most genuine, immersive experience, and why I put myself through these masochistic rounds of armchair research. So when I say something here is “just like” something there, I mean it. After all, I didn’t eat an average of five to seven croissants daily in the south of France for nothing. It was for science!
The only downside of eating these incredible specialties is the search for its dining doppelgänger at home on Long Island. I’m on a non-stop mission to find the hardy souls who respect tradition to faithfully produce the real deal. I brave misnamed dishes on many menus only to experience disappointment. But sometimes it’s euphoria when I find something so good, it brings me back to a past perfect experience. Now, I bring these worlds together with this new blog series for Edible Long Island: Authentic Eats, Long Island Streets.
Long Island has its share of old-school and old world culinary creatives who bring back influences from every corner of our delicious planet; I plan to bring to light some of those who do it best.
So travel with me, but leave your passport at home. The only things you’ll need to pack are a hearty appetite and a sense of adventure.