Food is the glue of an overseas adventure. It doesn't matter whether you're at local restaurant, grabbing something on the street or are invited the home of a local; food is a wonderful encapsulation of what we love about travel.
Because cultures orbit around their dinner tables, eating is necessarily cultural participation. Restauranteurs, chefs and cart-holders are true creatives, fusing culinary traditions with local produce and modern influences. They are as important to the understanding of a modern society as painters, musicians and authors; maybe more important.
When we are overseas, we eat together. Someone is always headed for a bite somewhere interesting, and what better way to get to know new people than to dine? Few things are as disarming and egalitarian as sitting in a new location with new people and a new menu. Everyone around the table is equal.
A meal is a fleeting moment overloaded with sensory information. You taste, smell, see, hear and perhaps touch your meal, and then it's gone. Except that a great (or an average) meal is never gone. They live as long in our memories as anything we do, and we eat a thousand times a year. And because we often do not have as high expectations of meals as we do of mountain ranges, we are often surprised and delighted. Great meals reach deep into our hearts.
And apart from the occasional fancy turn, food is relatively affordable. Accommodation, flights and other adventures are far more expensive than the amount you might set aside for meals. Food provides a disproportionate amount of joy compared with the cost of a nice hotel room or a decent day trip.
Eating is one of our great commonalities. Everyone has to eat, and trying something new is enriching for the soul and for the mind. When travelling, there is much joy in fresh perspectives on food and life.