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Tips on Adjusting to New Cuisine in a Foreign Country

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When you move overseas, you'll have to adjust to a lot of new things and an entirely new way of life. You may have to learn a foreign language, adopt new routines, make new friends, or find a new job. You'll also have to acquaint yourself with a completely different cuisine in the foreign country. Depending on where you move, you may have to change your food habits regarding what you eat and the way you eat.

Adjusting to New Cuisine in a Foreign Country

Introducing yourself to new cuisine in a foreign country

Every country is different with respect to its customs, traditions, and food culture. The same food could be prepared in several ways in different parts of the world and even consumed or served differently. If you're moving to a foreign country, taking interest in the local cuisine and exploring the new flavors could be a big part of your stay there. Not only will you get introduced to a new lifestyle, but it could also help you feel at home in a foreign land.

When moving abroad, it's important to get acquainted with the country's traditions when it comes to the culinary culture so you can become familiar with the etiquette that is commonly practiced. Follow the tips listed below to learn about new cuisine for your overseas move:

  • Observe how the locals eat: The best way to adapt to the local cuisine and food culture of a new country is to closely observe natives and be aware of their etiquettes. For example, in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries, food is primarily eaten without utensils and with your right hand as it is considered bad manners to handle food with your left hand.
  • Embrace the eating culture: Since food is so closely connected to the fabric of a country's culture and history, it's important to embrace the local cuisine. While you may be tempted, especially in the early days, to seek out things that are familiar, try your hardest not to. Instead of trying to find the nearest McDonald's, ask your neighbors where the best places to eat are and they'll tell you where the locals typically dine. These places will usually serve the best representation of the country's native cuisine.
  • Don't be afraid to try new things: You'll never know if you like something until you try it, and although that sounds like an overused cliché, it's true. Even if something looks or sounds like it wouldn't appeal to you, try it anyway. The worst that happens is that you confirm your suspicions that you wouldn't like it, and the best thing that can happen is you find your new favorite food. Who wouldn't sign up for that?

Adapting to the new cuisine in a foreign country

Becoming familiar with the local cuisine in your new country and adapting to it are two completely different things. While you may have tried some of the country's cuisine before the move and may be familiar with the different ingredients and flavors, you've never based most of your daily diet around it. It's important to remember the following things when adjusting to the local food after moving overseas:

  • Don't panic if your body doesn't react favorably at first: The local cuisine in your new country may feature very different ingredients than what you were accustomed to consuming back home as well as different minerals and substances that may be foreign to your body. In the early days, you may experience some discomfort, but it is only normal as your body and digestive system take time to adjust to the new food.
  • Developing a taste for food takes time: Food is very closely tied to memory and personal experience, so it may take a while for you to develop a taste for the local cuisine. Don't worry if you don't take an immediate liking to the cuisine as you're bound to develop a taste for it the longer you live there. Be patient and let your taste buds evolve over time.
  • Always keep an open mind: You may find the cuisines of a foreign country a bit strange and even revolting, but it's important that you always remember to be respectful of the culture. While you don't have to try everything, remember someone has worked hard to prepare the food and that the dish is often deeply rooted in the country's traditions. Exhibiting proper etiquette will go a long way.

Dealing with your food cravings

One of the biggest challenges of moving overseas is missing something that you can no longer enjoy. When you live in a new country, you're bound to feel homesick and even crave your favorite food from home which may not be readily available abroad. However, you don't have to suffer in silence. Learn how to deal with food cravings by following these tips:

  • Cook at home: Even if your favorite food isn't available at restaurants or food markets, you can cook anything you want at home. Preparing food by yourself would mean you can have fun throughout the process and even teach your local friends the recipe. And if you are not too proud of your culinary skills, keep trying until you achieve perfection. Practice makes perfect!
  • Try fusion cuisine or use alternative ingredients: If you don't have the exact ingredients that are needed in a recipe for your favorite dish, it might be a good idea to use alternative ingredients, which will add an element of creativity by making a fusion of two different cuisines. This will ensure that you'll have something to eat when you aren't in the mood for eating the local food.
  • Connect with other expats: When you're stuck between craving for home food and not wanting to try a new cuisine in a foreign country, the best way out may be to connect with your fellow expats. Try to find expats in your new country and form a community. If they're from your home country, they may be able to help you find a good place to eat or even be able to cook you a dish from back home.

Robert Moreschi  Posted by Robert Moreschi on November 22, 2013

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