“What do you eat that the mainlanders don’t eat?” On an island anywhere in the world, that’s one of the first and best questions to ask. Islanders don’t like to think of themselves as a chip off the ol’ continent. They have their own resources and their own food traditions and more than ever they are proud these days of their farm-to-table, sea-to-stewpot dishes.
On Hvar in Croatia, you have to try the Hvarska gregada, a broth-y bowl of fresh fish, potatoes, white wine and herbs. It’s how the island’s fishermen cooked, with the catch of the day and humble basics from the kitchen garden. If you’re headed to Santorini, look for the apple and feta pie: fruit from island orchard’s, cheese from sheep that baa in the background, and the crackliest phyllo ever.
How about a luau in Chile? Chilhoé Island was a landing point for Polynesians who found South America via Easter Island. The natives still cook mussels and smoked pork in covered pits in a style that never made its way ashore. Farther west, on Waiheke Island you’d hardly know you’re in New Zealand. True, vineyards and gardens carpet the hills, but local as it is, the cuisine has an international accent you wouldn’t expect.
From Sicily’s cannoli to the ceviche of the Galápagos, you can’t go wrong eating like an islander. It’s a way in to some of the smallest cultural enclaves you’ll ever visit. And travel anthropology has never tasted so good!