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Local food for global travelers

Helping local cooks get a part of the market share
  (+6, -3)
(+6, -3)
  [vote for,

Many travelers in 'exotic' countries would love to enjoy local cuisine. However, circumstances often make this difficult. The consequence is that they either eat at their hotel (international standard kitchen) or visit the local McDonald's - which is not bad, but we can do better.

The idea is to help local cooks - preferrably poor people with knowledge about traditional food - create a restaurant that conforms to basic international standards, but that is totally local.

Tourists who visit less explored regions could thus always enjoy a nice meal based on local cuisine; the 'brand' we're building is very recognizable.

We would proceed as follows:

1. we visit a touristy place in, say, Ethiopia or Vietnam.

2. we have a competition amongst the local poor (most often women), to see who presents the most interesting dishes.

3. once we have selected a candidate, we do the following:

3.1. we teach the cook and restaurant staff English, so they can communicate with tourists (this is not too costly, but it can make a big difference)

3.2. we help the chef create perfect menus; her/his input is of course crucial, but we also consult with international chefs to get their advice on interesting dishes; we also teach the local cook some very basic rules about modern restaurants

3.3. after this education (which is an investment on our part), we help set up the restaurant proper.

I'm thinking of using hip, designer, small pre-fab homes, which we convert to restaurants.

This makes our brand recognizable, even though such nice prefabs are not that expensive. [see link for an overview of nice designs].

That's it.

The restaurants can be located on a website, where daily menus are posted, so tourists can see what's on offer.

Of course, tasting the real stuff in the real environments (e.g. a street food stall) is far more exciting, but for many travelers, an "in-between" option like the one proposed here, might be attractive too. It might offer some comfort in difficult travel circumstances.

Traditional, local food, placed in a modern, hygienic, hip and safe context. It's a matter of 'upgrading' local skills and knowledge, and creating more value with them.

P.S. our restaurants always have a supply of fresh Belgian beer (besides local specialty drinks).

django, Apr 23 2008

Fabulous prefab http://www.fabprefa...les/fablisthome.htm
Say we use Rocio Romero's LV Home for our restaurants - scroll down; I think her design would suit nicely [django, Apr 23 2008]


       I saw something very similar on TV just last night. Anthony Bourdain *No Reservations* was in rural China where he dined in a poor person's home. His view is that the food from the peasants of the region reflect the true culinary creativity of a nation. So I'll bestow a local bun here...+
xandram, Apr 23 2008

       //food from the peasants of the region reflect the true culinary creativity of a nation//
I hope he never visits Stockport near Manchester.
coprocephalous, Apr 23 2008

       This idea sort of flips back and forth, like a Necker cube.   

       One minute, I see "Let's teach valuable skills to poor people so that both they and tourists visiting their neighbourhood can benefit."   

       The next minute, I see "Let's train these poor people to cook food the way we tourists want it, so we can get that reassuring Starbucks experience whilst pretending to eat 'native' cuisine."   

       I think my preferred option is to tell the tourists to live a little and eat the local food in the local places. If you want quality assurance, English-speaking staff and hourly checks on the cleanliness of the bathrooms, why tour in the first place?   

       On balance, [-]
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 23 2008

       It's always the way. You start by wanting a clean teaspoon, and before you know it you're invading a Poland.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 23 2008

       I did initially dislike this idea for the reasons given above, but [django] says "tasting the real stuff in the real environments (e.g. a street food stall) is far more exciting" and I think this should be seen as a stepping stone for nervous tourists. I'd prefer to tell people not to be such wimps, but that's not really innovative.
Srimech, Apr 23 2008

       "You want that Americanized, or do you want that authentic?"
baconbrain, Apr 23 2008

       There is an existing brand with spare capacity all set up and ready to go...   

       Just nip into the local church and get one of [leinypoo13]'s Communion Wafer + Dipping Sauce specials in the religious, ethnic and linguistic flavour of your choice.
james_what, Apr 23 2008

       [+], but some constructive criticism:   

       Pre-fab buildings are unnecessary. Do it in a local building and add some charm to the experience. Exterior signage would be perfectly adequate to recognise the brand.   

       Also, the only //basic international standard/ should be food hygiene. Dont change the way the service is provided - let the host decide by the local custom. Even the most stupid of tourists can tell from the sign on the wall whether they wait to be seated, find a seat and order at the counter, pay before/after etc.
sprogga, Apr 24 2008

       When I travel I eat local food at local restaurants. I often choose upmarket restaurant for better quality food and perhaps they have better food hygiene than the street vendors?   

       My problem is that I don't eat wheat or potatoes. That cuts away the easy option of eating americanized cheap junk food. The problem is how to explain waiters, who have poor english' that I am don't eat food including those ingredients? Would probably help a bit to know what is wheat in thai or japanese?
Pellepeloton, Apr 24 2008

       [Pelle] You're not getting your money worth, travelling like that. Upscale restaurants often equal tourist restaurants, and have no real guarantee of sanitary conditions. My favorite experiences have been in hole-in-the-wall local spots where there are no english menus (or speakers, for that matter). If it's good enough for billions of Chinese, it's good enough for me.   

       For your case: look up the translation of your special needs, print it on a small card, and bring that card with you. I've used this method in China, Thailand, India, and Turkey, and it's worked well (I'm vegetarian).
Worldgineer, Apr 24 2008


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