Nici Wickes: To travel is to eat

A typical Keralan lunch.

"To travel is to eat." Possibly not a quote by anyone famous, but a reality in my world.

I always claim to have little interest in the art or history of a place, preferring instead to frequent markets, roadside stalls and restaurants. But the truth is, that the cuisine does tell the story of a country and its culture.

In less than 24 hours, I'll be in Kerala on the southern tip and coast of India where the spice trade dates back 3000 years. Over the centuries Romans, Greeks, Arabs and Chinese have all run through there for their spices. Roman ships would sail into the harbour laden with gold to exchange for black pepper. What a wonderful version of commerce. Later came the Portuguese, Dutch and British who took turns at fighting for control of the lucrative pepper trade. And that's just the beginning of it. Next time you reach for the pepper, you'll know you're reaching far back into the history of India.

Culinary travel. Just another name for being greedy somewhere other than your home town really.

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