It was in Cuenca, Ecuador in 1999 when I had my first true culinary moment. I was coming to the end of my semester abroad and had yet to try cuye, Ecuador’s national dish. While the thought of eating a guinea pig didn’t actually sound appetizing, I knew it was something I had to do. A right of passage. Proof that I truly conquered Ecuador.
The host at Tres Estrellas led our group through the restaurant’s courtyard into a room that held a basic wooden table, folding chairs, and a single light bulb dangling from an exposed wire. There really wasn’t much of a menu as most diners came to Tres Estrellas for the cuye.
An hour and several bottles of Pilsener later, our cuye arrived, splayed out whole on a platter with almost all of its fur singed off. After another large sip of beer, we rolled up our sleeves (literally) and dug in.
That moment changed how I thought of food forever.
As I continued my world travels, food started to become a larger and larger part of my itinerary. It became the vehicle with which I learned a new culture, made friends, and grew closer to the loved ones I traveled with. Thus, when I began blogging back in 2009, writing a food travel blog only seemed natural. (This also makes me one of the Original Gangsta’s of food travel blogs)
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A Food Travel Blog
I realize the cuye example above is extreme. This is by no means an Andrew Zimmern Bizarre Foods style blog. Sure, you will find some exotic foods on here, but you will find just as much food that won’t make you squeamish like our Tuscan Cooking Vacation and my French Culinary Adventure. I also work a fair bit of craft beer and wine into my writing as a good meal is best accompanied with the proper regional beverage.
When I travel, I seek out local food be it street food, cooking classes, markets, whole in the wall restaurants, distilleries, wineries, and craft breweries. This is what I write about on my food travel blog along with clear instructions and tips on how you, too, can share a similar experience. After all, as much as a bit of voyeurism goes into blog reading, I also want to inspire and help readers have similar experiences.
Thus, my blog’s mission statement is:
The Wandering Gourmand helps aspiring travelers experience a world beyond mega-resorts, chain restaurants, and Bud Light by taking readers on a food and drink adventure around the world. My goal is to open up the world of taste and travel to readers. And, more importantly, to help readers accomplish their travel dreams.
I’m Bryan Richards, a fulltime food, travel, and craft beer writer and blogger. My travel tally includes five continents, 20 countries, and 71 cities. My culinary conquests have led me to cooking classes in Thailand, eating mopane worms in Namibia, and consuming a few too many beer’s at Munich’s little known Starkbierzeit.
My own culinary background includes growing up amongst a family full of amazing Italian cooks and winemakers. They taught me that passion, as much as technique, makes a good chef. Likewise, as I’ve traveled the world, my favorite dinners have not been in Michelin Star restaurants but at family owned establishments where cooking good food is not considered status but their heart and soul.
You may have seen my work appear in the following publications: