Your Palate, Your Passport.
You can literally taste a country in a plate. Yes, of course we want to visit those places personally. But we can always tour the world a plate at a time. It's your passport to the culinary world which will eventually open up your perspective and interest in cultures. Every time I miss going to San Francisco, I crave for a bowl of clam chowder. When I taste some rich and buttery scones, I feel as if I'm in the streets of London gossiping with my girlfriends over tea. When I taste the saltiness of olives and feta, I instantly wish I were wearing a white breezy dress while walking the streets of Greece. When I feel I need a break, I order a prosciutto pizza to bring me back to Italy. And when I'm especially cold and need a spicy Gamtajang (pork bone soup), I imagine I'm lost within the food markets of Korea (even if I haven't been to Korea at all). Sometimes I miss the waves calling in Hawaii, so I order a Mai-Tai to start then finish a whole poke bowl. And of course, when I crave for my childhood Filipino dishes prepared by our yaya (our nanny but really her title should be household governess), I cook some steamed rice, grill some liempo (pork belly) and make a large pot of sinigang or chicken adobo and I'm instantly in Manila again.
Just a side story:
When I was around 11 or 12 years old, I started watching "Cooking Live" with Sara Moulton. She made cooking seem so easy and calm. And I think I particularly liked the way she explained and prepared each step. In one of her shows, she mentioned a "food journal". And she said this in passing too. I have no idea why it stuck but it did. I convinced my mom that she "needed" to go to National Bookstore (basically the Staples, paper & stationary, and bookstore chain in Manila) so I could get myself a notebook or to find myself a food journal. Surprisingly, they had one. In the diet section (food and nutrition - more like a food log). So I converted it to a taste journal so I could remember food, their cuisine, and what they tasted like. I think I stopped writing when I was 18... or I think I just lost the notebook completely. Darn. What a piece of nostalgia that would've been.