I think about food a lot. I'm a big fan.
One of my favorite things about traveling is tasting the local cuisine (especially dessert, as mentioned in the last post about gelato). You get to try fruits and vegetables you've never seen before or eat something familiar made in a whole new way. Sometimes it's trying the snack you see everyone munching on in the street. Other times, it's pointing at the dish at the table next to you for your order but you have no idea what you are asking for. As with anything in life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. By that I mean that you may or may not like the taste. No matter what you will win because you're taking part in a cultural exchange.
Locals get excited when you're willing to try their cuisine. Even when you don't speak the same language, it's a great way to make new friends. When we tried langos in Budapest and hotpot in Chengdu, the locals around us seemed genuinely thrilled that we were willing to try (and enjoyed) the local flavors. We knew that from the encouraging demonstrations of proper eating techniques and from the smiles on their faces!
I tried a custard apple when in India and pointed it out to my family while wandering a market in Vietnam. The lady who owned the stall started cutting it up on the spot and insisting everyone taste it. (I think it tastes a bit like a thick pina colada.) My husband made a bemused face as he contemplated the texture. It wasn't that he didn't like it. It was just different. The stall owner giggled and then we all laughed. We understood each other even though she didn't speak English and we didn't speak Vietnamese. Think about how you feel when you bring a friend from out of town to your favorite local joint. You're sharing a part of you and that's what travel is all about... sharing experiences!
For some reason, I was afraid to eat a tongue sandwich in a NY deli but I ate crickets and silk worms in Vietnam. (The worms were gross by the way and our guide told us that he didn't like them either.) Sushi used to be scary and now it's one of my favorite cuisines. Keep an open mind when traveling. Trying new foods helps you learn a little more about another culture; make new friends; and maybe, just maybe, helps you find the most delicious new dish (mmmmm... gula melaka sago pudding)!