Dealing with my food preferences on the road

When you’re on the road, chasing epic food adventures is part and parcel of your journey. This being said, with all my years of travel experience and exposure, I am a very finicky eater. For too many reasons, I have the following aversions

  • I don’t eat Lamb/Mutton or Goat Meat … I’ll eat them once in a while, but only if very certain people cook it.
  • I don’t eat anything with dairy (Milk, Butter, Cheese)
  • I don’t like the strong taste of margarine

I might not learn the language, but I’m always 100% sure of how to say I don’t want something in my food.

  • In Spanish speaking countries … my order is always proceeded by ” sin mantequilla, queso o leche, por favor. Soy alérgico.”
  • In Russian speaking countries … ” ne maslo, syr, moloko ili pozhaluysta. YA allergik.” … I’ve also have to learn “Nyet Baran” …which is “No Sheep!” … it’s tough getting a meal without some sheep’s part in Central Asia
  • In Portuguese speaking countries … “sem manteiga, queijo ou leite, por favor. Sou alérgico.”
  • I even learned the phrase in Tagalog for my Philippines trip … “walang mantikilya, keso, o gatas. Ako ay allergic.”

This being said, how do you refuse 3 day old smoked lake fish? This was one of the first challenges that I had when I was in Kyrgyzstan, with my indomitable hosts Camilla & Bolot and the most hardcore Russian I know … Volodia (I could offer more reasons for his “hardcoreness” … but let’s just say he is old school and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be in a fight with him). Driving to Issyk Kul, there were a number of people selling these fish along the roadside … while passing them, I thought “There is no way I’m going to eat that stuff … is it even food?”
Of course, after meeting Volodia at this swank cottage complex on the lake … I was taken to the piers to have a true Russian experience … eating smoked fish and drinking 3 day old beer.

Yes, Trinidadians … if you’re in Kyrgyzstan and you have great hosts, you’re going to face this. If you’re ok with Sushi, then you won’t have as terrible a time, but the “freshness” of the fish definitely requires the beer to wash it down. As I write this, I can still smell the fish, it’s not a scent that will go away from my scent bank for a very, very long time.  How about another challenge … we love Tomato Herring at home, in the cans. We make this into a spicy “sap” that goes with hops bread.

Not over here … you eat the stuff raw … on rye bread.  Correction, it was Black Sea Sprat (Kilka) … wondering why the image is fuzzy … because I was quivering at the thought of barfing this stuff up and having Volodia laugh at me. Wasn’t going to happen …!!

How about some raw mackerel  “pechen’ trski” aka fish liver (of sorts covered by egg and mayonnaise? This wasn’t as bad as I thought it could be … but the texture combinations proved quite challenging for me. I didn’t actually know what it was, so I dug in and had a good helping of the stuff, before I knew what it was. I think the last time I was this surprised, I was eating Chicken in Blood Sauce in Rio de Janeiro – so always ask what you’re eating and make no assumptions.

How about some horse sausage? This is quite the delicacy over here … in both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. This collection of phallic like sausages was at a restaurant in Tashkent. The sausage is usually chipped finely and mixed in with cold noodles … there was a rather large woman tossing the whole table of noodles by hand. – had I seen the making of the noodles …. I don’t think I would have been able to stomach the dish. I did learn that if you toss tons of hot sauce on the horse, it doesn’t have a bad kick (hahahaha)

Horse Sausage and Cold noodles
Horse Sausage and Cold noodles

How about some Shirgrechka – Milk porridge with buckwheat. It took me a long time to figure out what the hell these people were making, when it takes 5 people to stir a massive pot of porridge, then you know you have something going on.

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at

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