Through all of my travels, one thing has remained constant: I eat a lot of food.
There’s something about having a meal, sharing a meal, or preparing a meal in another culture that connects you to it. Each place I’ve explored has presented itself most clearly through its food. So, when I had the opportunity to think about where I would want to spend a night having a dream dinner, my brain immediately started buzzing.
I thought that dreaming up a dinner anywhere in the world would instantly lead me to a specific time and place and experience, but it took more effort than I thought. Places I’ve already experienced will obviously alter my future ones, which is why I don’t think a destination immediately popped into my head. I weighed (way too) many options in my head and finally settled on something.
My ideal night out in a foreign city would be quaint and secluded with a beautiful backdrop. After I decided that, it all seemed to just fall right into place and three words popped into my head.
French Basque Country.
You may be familiar with it’s more well known counterpart, Spanish Basque Country, but somehow, the French side has stayed relatively under the radar, which is precisely why I chose it. If this is an ideal situation, which it is, I want to be able to be fully immersed in the culture without the distraction of a million tourists, even though I’m exactly that, a tourist. Although, I’d like to think of myself more as more of a traveler and not a tourist, but that’s a whole different story…
The Basque country as a whole has a very rich and old history, which is usually a huge positive for the food scene. Because of it’s proximity to the Spanish border, the food inevitably has influences from both countries. From what I’ve read, there are quaint farm houses and small towns with rustic food. As far as the scenery, there are gentle rolling hills that eventually will roll all the way into the Pyrenees to the east. And if you need the coast, the Bay of Biscay is to the west. I think I’ve pretty much found the perfect mix of everything. And of course I would think it’s perfect because I’m literally dreaming up my ideal night in a foreign place.
I would want a rustic French meal with tons of butter and bread and wine, preferably on a farm where they grow all their own produce and raise their own animals. They would have a huge wooden farm table outside and framing the entire scene would be the sun setting over the rolling verdant hills. Just as I finish my meal, the sun would sink below the horizon, but it would still be light enough to continue onto a dessert of canneles and more wine. And I would sit out there with the restaurant owners and they would tell me stories of their life and food and whatever else came up (hopefully they know English or somehow I magically learn to be fluent in French). And by the end of the night, we would be like old friends. Wow. Yeah. That sounds perfect. And now I’ll be right back because I’m looking up plane tickets to France…
But anyways, finding a place like that could be very difficult especially if there wasn’t a website for that completely dreamy restaurant I made up in my head that had the ability to be translated into English.
Because of my desire to be off the beaten path, most likely, I’m going to have to know some French, or at the very least, have some sort of translation to know what I’m getting into. This is where the internet would be my best little travel companion. I would want to look up local restaurants in French Basque country, and the websites may not be in English. If the site didn’t use translation software, I would most likely just find another site that was translated into English. This could be a very unfortunate situation because that restaurant site that I wouldn’t be able to read could very well be the best restaurant in the entire country and I could miss out on a lovely experience. It would be an absolute dream come true to have translation software available for websites that don’t currently offer it themselves. The problem with services like Google translate or having the internet browser do it for you is that you are getting a literal direct translation of the words on the page. Most often, that doesn’t work very well and I’m stuck trying to piece broken English sentences together. Then, I don’t get the full experience of what the food or ambiance of that restaurant would be and I would just probably have to find another. Having an online experience with a good English translation that could make my foreign dining experience better and easier would make traveling a whole lot more interesting and stress free. And I wouldn’t be missing out on any experience just because of that language barrier.
I very much appreciate the differences in language and culture as I travel from place to place, that’s one of the reasons traveling feels so thrilling. However, it just doesn’t seem possible to learn every language of every place I want to travel, so translation is absolutely necessary for some parts of travel.
If you could dream up a night out anywhere in the world, I hope you drift away into a dreamy daze like I did. I hope it makes you get excited about travel and new places and new cultures and new food because that’s one of the reasons life is so wonderful.