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I'm not eating that foreign muck

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By James Stone

The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said "I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad", rightly pointing out that the whole point of travelling is to get away from the everyday routines and experience something new.

Meeting new people, listening to strange sounds and music, observing wondrous religious ceremonies are all things that give us so much more from our holidays than a suntan and an overdraft.

While most people would probably like to think of themselves as open-minded, even adventurous travellers, there remain, however, a sizeable number of Brits who would prefer to leave sampling the foreign delicacies to the man on the television and instead stay well within their comfort zone.

According to recent research carried out by Halifax Travel Insurance, British holidaymakers fill the equivalent of 31.9 Boeing 747 jumbo jets each year with food and drink from home.

Nearly half of all Britons travelling abroad do so with their favourite English teabags in their luggage, while nine per cent take their favourite biscuits and eight per cent Cadbury's chocolate.

Furthermore, it is quite likely that the suitcase being checked-in in front of you at the airport will contain condiments as well as clothes, with ketchup, Marmite, HP Sauce and Branston Pickle all deemed must-take items by a significant number of people.

Of course, not all food abroad is going to be to our liking and most people do like to be reminded about home once in a while when they are abroad.

I have lost track of the number of cities in which my initial enthusiasm for experiencing the local culture has waned, leading me to spend at least one night of my trip in an Irish pub drinking and eating the same things I could get within two minutes' walk of my home.

Also, I will be the first to admit that just because something is exotic doesn't mean it will taste good and, again, I have been known to resort to British fare when the thought of another plate of re-fried beans or couscous fills me with dread.

However, at least I - and I consider myself to be a 'good' traveller - leave home with the intention of trying everything at least once and keep an open mind once abroad.

It seems that those people who fill their suitcases with the contents of their home cupboards have already made up their minds that foreign food is not going to appeal to them and they are safe in the knowledge that, should the Red Lion be shut, they are armed with a couple of litres of ketchup to make sure the local fare can be made as bland as possible.

Not only does this seem quite childish, but it also smacks a bit of arrogance, that British food is so much better than anything else and we don't even need to try something to know it's not going to be any good.

This is however, nothing for me to worry about - after all, how does it affect me apart from making it all the more likely that I will be warmly welcomed into a local restaurant and experience the country I am visiting on a deeper level.

It is their loss - and don't the 688,000 Britons taking British beer abroad know that it's not that good and, while they not be very good at driving, foreigners are able to make an excellent pint.


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