Part of the fun in a vacation is the eating.
No, I don’t mean pigging out.
But enjoying what the locals eat.
Yes my dear readers. This is for real.
I have friends (and sadly relatives) that pack instant noodles or canned goods so that they can scrimp on having to spend for meals. Unless the place you’ve booked is a Condotel or Apartment or airbnb, filling your luggages with bottled water, Spam and other canned goods, juices in tetra paks, bread and peanut butter, and instant noodles is an absolute frown.
The bottomline is – why do you even want to go on a trip if you’re packing your three meals a day.
I even know people who are on a business trip and yet bring packed meals! It’s not because they’re not given a daily allowance for meals and sundries. It’s because they will save that money to buy goods and souvenirs.
Spend when you must. Particularly when you’re on vacation. If you want to live like a pauper, you might as well bring a can and a fiddle and peddle on the streets where you go for a vacation. You may get lucky.
One alternative is when you’re really not sure about the food in your destination of choice, look for a fast-food restaurant. There usually is one in your neighbourhood (unless your lodging is really isolated from civilisation that you’re forced to eat only in Michelin Star restaurants or the only restaurant in your hotel).
A fastfood joint usually provides you with a variety of choices of food from the local community.
With the presence of various food chains worldwide, you should be able to bump into McDonalds, Starbucks, KFC, or Burger King somewhere around the corner of your hotel. Question is, why would you want to eat in a restaurant that you find in your own country and at a cheaper price?!?!? It’s insulting to me that I have two chickens and mashed potatoes for 10euros (P625.00) when I can actually get it for less than P125 in Manila! Imagine paying P500 more for KFC chicken in Madrid and being served by a Filipino OFW…Seriously?
When you’re on a budget, opt to go to local food joints that serve the local cuisines. In Europe, most (if not all) cities have Markets (Mercato) where you can have a good meal at a reasonable price. This is where the locals meet, eat, exchange stories and just let their hair down.
We’re not all rich and have cash to burn.
And yes, I have dined in Michelin Star restaurants in some of my vacations.
Is it worth it?
Not really. For the price that plunges deep into my credit card, some of the food is hardly appreciated especially after a 5 km walk! I mean, when you’re dead tired from the tours or the shopping, eating becomes a necessity. And anything that fills that grumbling stomach won’t matter.
But do look out for highly recommended Michelin Star restaurants when given the time. Singapore, for example, has a whole list of Hawker Stalls that have made it to Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list for 2018. Fifty – 50 – yes, fifty hawker stalls and restaurant, up from 38 last year! Liao Fan Hawker Chan serves one of THE BEST Cantonese Roast Meats for less than P350! And deserves the Michelin award for being one of the best Hawker Stalls.
Can you imagine Bismillah Biryani serves street food and is a Michelin awardee?!?! Now who said, Michelin needs to be fine dining? If you bothered to do a bit of research prior to going to your destination, I’m sure you’ll find the best finds are those we bothered to look for.
While some recommendations from the concierge at your hotel may help, it’s important to remember that many are biased. That’s because they get paid for recommendations made. They will call to make reservations for you.
In my experience, 80% of the concierge recommendations range from very good to excellent. 100% of the concierge recommendations are pretty expensive. Unless the concierge asks your budget, or you let them know your budget and the kind of food you want to eat and how far off from the hotel you’d want to have dinner, they’ll usually give you a restaurant that’s $$$($).
But when you’re out of options or just plainly are clueless on where and what to have for dinner, the concierge is rarely wrong.
Remember, part of the trip is enjoying the food in the country you’re visiting. It’s like when your friends come to the Philippines. You’d want them to try the Lechon, Halo-Halo, Pancit Palabok, Adobo, Max’s Fried Chicken, Rellenong Bangus, Leche Flan, Balut…to name a few!
It’s like introducing them to a new friend. Perhaps, they too will make friends with their newfound friend. Food.