Rachel Davey is a self-confessed foodie and travel addict, always seeking the next local food experience in whichever country she is visiting. Here she shares with us why food has become such a motivation behind her travels, and how her passion has now become her business…
I’ve always been a dreamer. Growing up in country Victoria, I never imagined my life to follow the pattern of working 9 to 5, settling down and buying a house. It just wasn’t for me. I wanted to explore the world.
At 21 years old, I left on my first overseas experience. I travelled through Canada, the USA, the UK and Europe that year, and it was one of the best years of my life. I was hooked. Then I scored my dream job as an on-road-chef for a youth coach travel company in Europe. How perfect!
I’d found a job where I could combine travel, food and meeting new people, exactly what I’m all about. Part of my job was to get people excited about the food of the country we were in, and cook that cuisine for them. My favourite days off were spent wandering through chaotic local markets, searching for delicious street foods or trying to locate that tiny little restaurant down a side street cooking incredible dishes using local seasonal ingredients.
Years spent searching for these foodie experiences inspired my passion for authentic food even more. I love to find the story behind the food, meet the locals and take part in real food experiences at every chance I get. It’s incredible to see how and why cuisines are built around the produce and ingredients that are grown in that country.
I backpacked through Morocco a few years ago with a friend. A young guy approached my friend and I in Essaouira. He just wanted to practice his English and we chatted for a while about where we were from. He wanted to show us a ‘real experience’ in his country, and he offered to cook us a traditional Moroccan tagine in his home. I was a little doubtful at the beginning, but we gave him a chance.
The afternoon turned out to be one of the most memorable food experiences I’ve ever had. We had a wonderful time wandering through the markets. We selected a beautiful cut of meat from ‘the best’ butcher in town, then we haggled for spices in the bazaar, choosing only the brightest, freshest available. We finished at a small rusty door on the side of the street, to discover upon entering that it was a small bakery with a huge underground stone oven. Men were running in and out with carts and bamboo baskets full of the freshest bread rolls.
The rest of the evening was spent in his modest little apartment preparing the tagine, which we then left to cook for around an hour or two. We sat on the rooftop of his apartment playing the guitar and gazing across the rooftops of the town. We sat and shared the delicious tagine meal with him around a small table. We tore fresh bread and ate together, chatting about life. It was a priceless experience.
Food has always been my main motivation when choosing which country I shall explore next, and I feel that it is the perfect way to create a bond or connection with the local people. Particularly in South East Asia, one of my favourite continents to travel in; not only because the food is incredible, but also because of the people behind it.
For many of these people that either own a street food cart, a food stall, cooking class or run a food tour, the food they serve is their passion, and often their recipes have been passed down through generations. Most of them work tirelessly from the early hours of the morning until very late at night, seven days a week. Their profits often go straight towards supporting their extended families, providing a better life and education of their younger generation, or sustaining their elders.
This makes my heart smile. I’ve never been one to need or want many material things in life, but I’m constantly reminded each time I travel that these things aren’t too important. As long as you have a roof over your head, food in your stomach and family and friends to share it with, the other ‘stuff’ doesn’t matter so much.
For the past decade, reflecting on what I’ve loved and learned from my travels, it’s clear that the people I’ve met, laughed and cooked with are the reasons I hold so many wonderful memories. Upon returning to Australia, there is one thing that I promised myself I’d do. I know that my future has to do with continued travel and food and I’d like to give back to all those people from around the world that made my life so amazing through the joy they brought me with food.
Rachel’s experiences have led her to starting her own business ‘Very Hungry Nomads’ which connects travellers with authentic food tours and cooking classes around the world. See more at www.veryhungrynomads.com
Does food motivate your travels? If so, tell us why, or tell us your favourite food moment!