Contrary to what you may think, I am not one of those adventurous eaters. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love food- French, Italian or otherwise. I consider myself a foodie, but I just don't like to eat anything
Contrary to what you may think, I am not one of those adventurous eaters. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love food- French, Italian or otherwise. I consider myself a foodie, but I just don't like to eat anythingweird.
I tried duck when I was in France, which was a first for me- and I loved it! But it was duck breast served in a peach sauce. It wasn't like a duck beak with intestine sauce. There I draw the line.
One of my biggest fears when I first travelled to France and Italy was the food. Europeans have some different staples than Americans. They eat lots of things that I haven't. Or wouldn't, for that matter.
While I know a fair amount of French and Italian, definitely enough to get around, I don't know enough to decode every detail on a foreign menu.
Frogs legs, tripe, rabbit, brains, livers- you name it, it's all on offer.
So how do you avoid eating something that you don't want?
Marling makes terrific menu decoder books, specific to each country. They are small enough to fit comfortably in your purse or pocket and not seem too conspicuous if you need to slip it out at the table to translate your menu. They are organized by course, (appetizer, entrée, dessert) and give details like cooking preparations and ingredients, which is also helpful to those with food allergies. Versions for France and Italy cost under $10 and are well worth it , in this squeamish diner's opinion. I would never leave home without one.
If free is more your style, Budget Travel magazine also has a version of a menu decoder. It is available in HTML or PDF format, so you can just print it and go. This one is very basic, not quite as comprehensive as Marling's books. You may be able to translate the animal or bird, but not necessarily the part of the body, which may be a deal breaker.
Some restaurants and cafes may offer menus with English translations or separate English menus, so it never hurts to ask. But keep in mind, most places that have English on the menu may be catering more to tourists. Which is perfectly fine. Nothing wrong with that.
However, if you are like me, or you want to eat where the locals do, this may be a bit of a turn off.
Armed with this information, I urge you to go forth and experiment. At least as much as your constitution will allow.
Now, if I could just get someone to rename sweetbreads– cause it sure ain't what you might think!
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