For this, surprisingly, I have my mother to thank. She is the antithesis of a foodie, yet still ingrained within me the importance of eating food like a local. The location was Acapulco, Mexico. The date, 28th of December, 2000. It was night, the skies were already dark. We had spent a day on the pebbly beach and were feeling ravenous. We walked down a main road and there it was, off in the distance: the Hard Rock Cafe. Its large building and bright lights dominated the street. It was like manna to my eyes. My mouth was salivating,... and to think I had never eaten there before. I begged, I pleaded, I nearly groveled in order for us to dine there. But my mom's eyes zeroed-in on another restaurant, an unobtrusive little place a few feet closer to us than the Hard Rock Cafe. It might have been the cost of the meals that persuaded her decision in where we would eat. Actually, I'm sure it was the cost of the meals. But no matter. That choice led us to enjoy some of the greatest Mexican food we have ever tasted. It was so good, in fact, that we chose to eat there the very next day as well. That single, solitary decision on my mother's part changed my perspective forever.
Since then, before the start of every destination get-away, I always do research. Food research. What better way is there (in such a short period of time) to understand a culture than by eating their culinary fare? Sadly, like me in the days of my youth, not everyone shares in my (now) superior reasoning - namely those of my same nationality. (No judgment to those who do choose the Hard Rock Cafe over authentic Mexican food. No. For those, there is only pity for what they're missing out on).
Two weeks, and that is no exaggeration, before I left on my little Irish getaway I started researching restaurants. Ireland was never on my top 5 list of gastronomic hot spots, but I was sure to make it work. And boy, did I! With foods as wonderful as corned beef and cabbage (two plates full, mind you), full Irish breakfasts, stuffed pork loin on a bed of mashed potatoes, fried brie salad garnished with a berry compote, sticky toffee pudding and banoffee pie, I was in glutton heaven. So you can imagine my dismay upon overhearing the following conversation while climbing the circular stairs up the Blarney castle.
Girl #1: "Oh man, I'm still stuffed with all the food we ate yesterday!"
Girl #2: "I don't know what you're talking about." She says in a mocking tone. "I mean, we only had Mc Donald's for lunch and dinner - and pizza for a late night snack."
My eyes widened. I wanted to smack them upside their heads. But as a mature woman in her young 30's, I showed restraint. Actually, that's a lie. The only reason I didn't reach right over is because I was behind them and single shove on their part, in return, would have caused me to tumble down the 157 steps I had just climbed. Otherwise, I would have highly considered it.
So, have Mc Donalds on vacation if you must. But just don't ever tell me about it. Never. Ever.