The Joy of Discovering Local, Seasonal Flavors
When I travel, I make a point of eating local, seasonal food. It’s better from a sustainability perspective, but beyond that it allows me to experience the flavor of a particular place at that time of year. And fresh, ripe food tastes so much better than food that’s been shipped halfway around the world! There’s simply no substitute for eating something grown right up the road.
In temperate parts of the world, the seasons can be extreme, but even in the tropics many crops, especially fruits, reach peak ripeness at specific times. So I always pay attention to what’s available in the markets, and let this information govern my choices when ordering at restaurants. This is the best food advice I can offer other travelers, wherever you go — look at what the locals are eating, and eat that!
Even something as simple as a coconut, when it’s allowed to fully ripen, bursts with flavors that you cannot find in a supermarket container of coconut water. And you might find that even familiar ingredients can be full of surprises. Take mangoes, for example; here in Goa there are dozens of varieties available, ripe and unripe, and even the young leaves are used as an herb. They have a bright, slightly bitter, almost resinous flavor, and they taste incredible with cashew-based sauces. Why? Because mangoes and cashews are related.
When you taste flavors like these for the first time, from the simplest fresh fruit to the most sophisticated sauce, you form an indelible sense memory of that time and place, and a deeper understanding of the ways in which ingredients shape the identity of every cuisine. Food connects you to the world — literally! Wholistic wellbeing must prioritize these pleasures, because mindful eating should always be a celebration of flavor as well as nourishment.