What eating my way across the globe has taught me about people

Photo By: Rick Stein's India

Originally posted at https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/rick-stein-what-eating-my-way-across-the-globe-has-taught-me-about-people

TV legend, Rick Stein, talks to SBS about our innate drive to eat good food while we're traveling and keep our food-travel flame burning.

What would your life be like if you could travel the globe for work, connecting with foreign characters over food, while eating incredible dishes on camera?

Welcome to Rick Stein's world.

The TV presenter, cookbook author, celebrity chef and restaurateur has experienced a coveted life for almost 30 years. His food-travel TV series have made us either feel hungry, inspired, envious or all of the above. But Stein's long TV career has also made us wonder: does he get over it? Does he ever tire of constantly traveling and eating? Does the gig ever lose its shine especially if you do it on repeat?

As far as I'm concerned, the thing that really turns me on is good simple cooking - wherever I am.

Stein doesn't need to think too hard about the answer. He tells SBS a firm no. The reason I've enjoyed traveling so much is simple, says Stein. I just love food and I really love food, eaten anywhere.

" There are lots of reasons why television presenters like myself go to different countries. Sometimes, as a viewer, you may think are they just there to sightsee? For me, I'm always on a journey of discovery, just because I love food so much. As far as I'm concerned, the thing that really turns me on is good simple cooking wherever I am. ”

Stein recalls how much he loved filming in India for Rick Stein's India series. By the end of his work stint there, he says, he thought he would never experience anything better in his career.

"I thought that nothing could live up to the wonder of Indian cuisine. Then I made the series, From Venice to Istanbul. We started filming in Venice and then went to Croatia, Greece and Turkey. I got really into the full spectrum of the food that was available there. I remember just thinking how fantastic the food was in Greece.”

Previously, Stein had thought that the curries he tasted throughout India were so spicy and full of fragrance that the flavour of Greek cuisine could never compete. "But of course it did. It was totally different to Indian cuisine but it was just as exciting.”

What food-travel TV has taught Stein

If there's one thing that food-travel TV has taught Stein it's that we, the humans of the globe, are all connected. Although we have different cultures and eat different styles of food, we all share something quite primal: an innate drive to eat.

"I remember always talking to the late and much lamented Anthony Bourdain about what kept us going in food-travel television.

"We used to say it was just a fascination with food [foreign to us]. But also, you have an appetite every day. So you always think 'what can I eat?' When you are in Vietnam - you ask yourself, 'what can I eat here'? The answer is that there will always be something to eat.”

Just like that, as a traveller, you may discover a revived interest in food and feel a force push you to eat a local meal. If you're lucky, the dish will be delicious and the characters behind the food will inspire you - time and time again.

Good food and human connections are features of life that many social creatures seek out.

"As human beings, we're all very similar on various levels. Most of us enjoy eating and cooking things that stimulate our appetite, that stimulate our intellect. So in some way, food becomes a great way of understanding what makes other people tick.

" If you're a musician who travels to a different country for music and you mingle with a load of musicians, the music [you play] might be different but you'll have familiar interests. The fascination with creating music is similar to the fascination people have with creating dishes and eating good food. It's a universal thing.”

Yasmin Noone