A matter of local taste

My youngest son and I have enjoyed numerous interesting conversations over dinner since he recently announced his intention to enroll at one of the world’s leading hotel schools in 2018. It’s a decision I fully endorse and support as my own long career as a hospitality provider has greatly enriched my life, and that of my family, and hopefully, the careers of thousands of associates I have worked with, and the satisfaction of hundreds of thousands of guests I have served with pride and passion during my incredible journey from the pot wash room to the boardroom.

Over a delicious bowl of steaming hot tom yum kung prepared by my wife the night before I left my family and my home in Bangkok to take up my latest, and quite possibly my last, overseas assignment, John asked me about the food items I have most enjoyed and most disliked during a career spanning five decades. It is a question I had no problem in answering as I savored the heavenly taste of Thailand’s legendary spicy prawn broth.

My all-time favorite food as a proud Scotsman (apart from my wife’s soup) is of course our national dish, haggis, if it’s made by my all-time favorite Edinburgh Butcher, Mr. McSween.

Haggis, Scotland's national dish
Haggis, Scotland’s national dish

My all-time least favorite food was the spicy Thai ants’ eggs salad, offered to me by my Thai wife at a local hotel in northern Thailand (see the pictures below).

Other “interesting” local delicacies offered to me while managing hotels in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, in no particular order of taste preference, include crocodile head soup tasted in China, broiled ostrich drumsticks tasted in Kenya; roasted camel with camel intestines soup and fragrant rice tasted in Riyadh; and braised sea cucumber tasted in Hong Kong.

Now that I am back in Nigeria for my second assignment, after a gap of 25 years, I can add to the list of exotic foods I have tasted over a 40-year career a truly exotic and tasty dish that is more popular here than caviar, goose liver, Scottish salmon, king prawns, spider crab or Maine lobster. That is the succulent giant Nigerian snail, cooked in a spicy tomato stew and enjoyed with a platter of starchy traditional accompaniments.

And my son’s favorite food tasted during his life of travel with his globe-trotting parents is the incredibly delicate tastes and textures of freshly made sushi and sashimi, which we frequently enjoyed during our Korean and Japanese adventures, and his most disliked food… anything that we say is good for him.

Please do let me and our other blog readers know about your favorite or worst exotic foods tasted during your travels to the far-flung destinations of our hoteliers’ world.