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moroccan couscous chicken dishEvery Wednesday, we’ll feature one practical travel tip here, on our blog. Get our clever weekly tips and other travel resources in your inbox by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our newsletter.

For every unique and tasteful souvenir, there’s a raft of cheap “I ♥ New York” mugs, useless bobblehead figures and oh-so-classy boxer shorts imprinted with the X-rated bits of Michelangelo’s David statue. Your trip deserves better.

I’ve found my own way to memorialize my travels, and it doesn’t start till I get home. As I wrote in 35 Travel Tips Revealed: Top Secrets of Travel Writers, “I like to bring a little bit of each trip home with me — and not just with postcards. After I return from a foreign country, I always try to recreate a local dish in my own kitchen, like Moroccan couscous or Belizean stewed chicken. The smell of the meal will often transport me right back to the place I just left.”

Be warned: It sometimes takes a little experimenting and Web searching to find a recipe that truly lives up to the flavors and scents you remember. Learning to cook in a new style can be a challenge too (I set my wok on fire one of the first few times I tried to season it). And don’t be surprised if you have to venture out to a specialty grocer for that hard-to-find banana flower, yuca root or Sichuan pepper.

But for me, the hassle is all worth it when the scent of toasting cumin calls up vivid sense memories of those colorful Moroccan spice markets I loved to visit. It’s the next best thing to being there.

What’s your favorite memento of your travels?

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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4 Responses to “Travel Tip of the Week: Cooking Up a Travel Memory”

  1. Nimmy says:

    my way is a little but different ….. I try to buy a new perfume whenever I go to a new place and use it throughout the trip. This way when I come back I can instantly transport myself to back to those exotic locations with just a dab of my perfumes and trust me it does wonders in English weather!

  2. debbie says:

    I have actually gotten chefs to share their recipes with me and some have even taken me into their kitchen and shown me the techniques and ingredients that they use so I can take away the actually smells and tastes of places I have visited. I also have signed up for cooking schools around the world prior to leaving on trips so that I can learn a bit about the cuisine of the islands and countries I have visited and lived. I have invited restaurant owners/chefs to my home and had them show me how to prepare my favorite dishes before I have moved away so I can continue making the foods I love. I have then turned around and shared my american recipes with them as well. I ended up in the kitchen on a live aboard dive boat showing the chefs how to make american cookies on one trip to the Philippines! Traveling the world one bite at a time is great!

  3. Caroline Hanson says:

    I buy a Christmas tree ornament from each trip. Once a year, as I decorate the tree, I can remember the trip. The memories make me happy. And it is not fattening. LOL.

  4. Wow. I thought I was the only one who did this. By the Way I love Belizian chicken stew including my favorite morning pastry Fry Jacks. Anyway, it will sound silly, but whenever I go somewhere tropical I bring back beach sand. I have a collection of sand from all over the world I have in recycled jelly jars. You would be amazed at all the different colors of sand and textures there are.

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