Since food and people are the biggest parts of any journey, and you can’t eat people and brag about it on a blog, I’ve decided to compile a portfolio of backpacking foods I encountered while wandering over the past seven years.
Unfortunately, this compilation hardly covers but just a few of the glorious foods that I’ve enjoyed on the road. Forget the chemical-laced, plastic-wrapped crap that the government approves for Americans to eat. That stuff keeps the pharmaceutical companies in business. I’ll pretty much eat anything slower and dumber than me but not that. You can see proof in my post of ugly vagabonding foods.
Don’t be squeamish about tentacles or eyeballs: This is real food and I feel the energy of a rockstar after eating it. Or maybe the E.coli just makes me think that I’m Jim Morrison for a few hours.
[ WARNING: Proceeding further without a fast connection and unlimited data plan may make your mobile device overheat and explode. ]
Midin — a jungle vine that grows in Borneo. It’s nutty and stays crunchy after cooking; you’re essentially eating a plate of rainforest medicine. This stuff will turn you into a hippie on the spot! (Kuching, Borneo)
Red snapper eaten on the beach in Sri Lanka. BEFORE PICTURE (Mirissa, Sri Lanka)
AFTER PICTURE. Basically, what’s left of the red snapper shown above. Don’t be squeamish about the head: some of the best flesh is in the face, especially the cheeks and muscles that control the eyes.
A perfectly cooked steak on the beach in Sri Lanka. Since the island suffers from a dreadful lack of turkeys, I made this bloody beef my Thanksgiving dinner for 2012 and it was incredible! Particularly after enduring months in India with no beef. (Unawatuna, Sri Lanka)
The coconut-based noodle soup known as laksa is famous in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the Kuching variety is as thick and heavy as it looks. One cup of coconut milk has 50 grams of saturated fat and 550 calories — more than the average Big Mac. (Kuching, Malaysian Borneo)
Ironically, I was introduced to Nicoise salad with tuna in Thailand last year. Even the most hardened Thai-food lover grows tired of rice and noodles; French salad to the rescue! (Chiang Mai, Thailand)
Mushrooms grow from nothing; you’re basically eating the forest itself. And don’t call them fungus: Mushrooms have feelings, too! Damn, that sounded like something a hippie would say; too much midin in Borneo, I guess. (Pai, Thailand.)
Koshari is a tasty vegetarian street food sold in Egypt. Pretty much a little bit of every carbohydrate known to man thrown into one cup. (Cairo, Egypt)
OK, I know that Thai Redbull isn’t a food, but I’ve consumed enough over the years to sustain myself on it. Don’t compare it to Redbull at home: this stuff is way better in its country of origin! Now hopefully they’ll funnel some of the money I’ve sent their way into artificial heart valve research; I’m going to need a few replacements one day. (Bangkok, Thailand)
Some delicious fajitas I cooked up at home in Ireland. This is after walking around all day looking for sour cream in supermarkets all over town. What I found would have been rejected by any Mexican-food lover with self respect. For the record, Irish sour cream is thin enough to be poured from a carton — it’s basically just a way to mark up and sell spoiled milk. (Cork, Ireland)
Local cheese and bread at the market in Peru. An easy way to eat for under US $1 and stay on the road just a little longer. (Cusco, Peru)
Pad Thai is the default staple for all budget travelers in Thailand and for people who aren’t sure what to order in Thai restaurants at home. Even still, the widespread love comes for a reason: the tourist version above is simply unbeatable! (Koh Lanta, Thailand)
There is something strangely addictive about those rubbery tapioca bubbles in Malaysian bubble tea. They look bizarre, but a few of these things sliding up your straw makes a day in a sprawling Asian mall a more bearable experience. (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Real wood-fired Italian pizza, even when burned crispy, is still better than those squishy grease-frisbies that Pizza Hut mass produces and slings out. And they’re the most widely known American pizza chain abroad. Shame on them! (Brescia, Italy)
These yellow king coconuts are practically free in Sri Lanka — assuming you don’t buy them from a scammer on the beach. Unlike regular coconuts, these are made for drinking only and don’t have much flesh. I learned to open them with my knife and drank two or three every day. Coconut water is full of electrolytes and is considered a ‘super food’ for survival. With loads of yummy minerals, king coconuts were once even used for IVs during World War II instead of saline solution.
Well I had better stop for now. The post is already picture-heavy enough to crash anything less than a NASA mainframe and I’m bloody starving after picking through so many food photos.
Good luck recovering your data and go eat something natural! You can see more food pictures on my Flickr vagabonding food photostream or if you really want to feel ill, check out some less pleasant vagabonding foods.