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A Different Kind of Adventure

“Is there any food you refuse to try?”


This is a question people asked me several times on this trip and throughout my life. The answer, in case you were wondering, is no, I don’t think so. I’m ridiculously jealous of all of my fellow writers who got to taste termites while on the trip. They reported that the tiny bugs tasted like minty chicken, and I’m (almost) satisfied with that description.


It’s true that I’ll venture far beyond the beaten path to find tasty food. I once dragged my mom through the streets of Florence, Italy, to find a well-reviewed gelateria and in return received some life-changing ice cream. On this trip, I took a few other Vida writers to fruit markets, hidden sodas (casual Costa Rican eateries) and a tiny shack shelling out empanadas.


Since people were mostly pleased with my finds, my efforts, at least, were not in vain.


This is the role I tend to take on as “the food person,” the one with a culinary background, the adventurous eater, and I’m comfortable with the responsibilities that accompany that role. However, I do find it funny that I am pegged as adventurous for trying new foods while I get anxious about ziplining.

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I am unafraid to venture down narrow gravel roads or shimmy into a closet-sized bakery in the name of food research. I get to know a place through its cuisine. I am always on the hunt for new flavors and techniques so I can implement them in my own cooking, or at least seek out those food experiences closer to home. Trying different, sometimes wacky foods, as strange as it may seem, brings me comfort and pleasure.


I think being from the South, a region that’s a little rough around the edges, as well as having lived in a foreign country for four months, challenges me to seek out a place’s hidden quirks. I’m excited to take on those challenges. Now, bungee jumping? Ask me in a few years if I’ve conquered that one.

-Mary Clay Kline