I have done the same mistake before and I am not sure why I keep making it.
The last day in Thailand, after two weeks eating curries and pad thais, which by the way were delicious, we felt a little bit homesick. At the airport, we decided to order a pair of juicy, tender, “American style” steaks. A big chunk of meat arrived on a plate with a side of French fries. When the waitress revealed there were no knives in the restaurant, I knew we made a big, big mistake. We ended up eating the rubbery, disgusting, raw piece of meat in a cannibalistic style. I couldn’t eat even half of it. It was the most expensive and, at the same time, the worst food of the trip.
Another time, at the small town of Parati (Brazil), I had the great idea of ordering a burger. Since when are Brazilians known for their burgers? I ended up getting a slider sized patty on the biggest bun I have ever seen. No cheese. No lettuce. No tomato. No condiments. This time I had to go to a juice bar to get a plate or acai with granola in order to fill up.
Every place on the planet has its particular gastronomy. When I stick to what people of a country cook best, I have the opportunity to taste stunning dishes. In the same line, when locals recommend a place to eat, I end up having a feast. However, when I try to have a “taste of home,” things go miserably wrong.
At the Plaza de Armas in Oaxaca City, under one of the porticos, my sushi lover husband spotted a place called Sushi Itto. I had a long list of Oaxacan specialties that I wanted to try but I agreed (with a grunt) to eat there.
The atmosphere was elegant, the service prompt and the menu was full of colorful rolls with fun names. We ordered the following rolls:
- Mas de lo mismo (more of the same) roll – imitation crab, toasted chilies, avocado and cream cheese smothered in a Tampico sauce (kind of a spicy mayonnaise).
- Confetti roll – avocado, caramelized onions, garlic shrimp inside; cream cheese, chipotle sauce and Tampico sauce outside.
The rice had an adequate balance and the fillings were savory. However, everything was lacking the wow factor. Additionally, the “sushi” interpretation of this restaurant was too far from reality to my taste. I do not pretend to be a sushi connoisseur or purist. Even though in Los Angeles we have pretty good sushi eateries, I am sure those places have a significant distance from what sushi is. Then, imagine how far the Sushi Itto interpretation is.
And, can somebody tell me where the raw fish was? I checked the menu and the protein on the rolls consisted of smoked salmon, crab, cooked shrimp, chicken breast and fried fish. Almost everything was served with cream cheese and a spicy sauce.
While researching my trip to Oaxaca, I found a guidebook author questioning while there are restaurants offering international (French, Italian, etc.) in Oaxaca. The food in the state is so rich, exquisite and diverse that you don’t need anything else to eat like a king every single day of your stay. I have to agree with this writer.
All the food I ate cooked from recipes passed from generation to generation left a big impression on me. I still dream of the thick sauces, soft cheeses, chewy tortillas and tender meats. Those are flavor that I want to experience over and over again.
But sushi? Meee, I will pass next time. I leave it to those who are interested in trying international food on the Mexican state that is world famous for its gastronomy.
Hopefully, this time I will learn the lesson: eat what locals eat, you won’t regret it.
After paying the sushi bill, we found a small joint selling “tacos arabes.” We made the line and ate while conversing with the locals. That is a place I am hoping to return one day.
Would you stick to local specialties while traveling? Let me know in the comments section below.