Elyse Pasquale is FOODIE INTERNATIONAL, a food and travel writer on the adventure of a lifetime. The initial objective: to fly 100,000 miles for 100 of the world’s best local meals in one year. One year turned into three, and more than 100 food-filled journeys around the world. With a philosophy that food is living history, Elyse believes the best way to understand and experience a new culture is through the cuisine. FOODIE INTERNATIONAL takes culinary tourism to a new, mouth-watering extreme. Elyse is currently writing her first book, “Off the Beaten Plate.”
Q: How did Foodie International get started?
A: In early 2010 I read a post on Eater.com about a television network looking for the next “Guy’s Guy” for an extreme food and travel show. I had just returned from a life-changing experience in Tuscany where I joined local farmers at home for an annual pig slaughter and prosciutto making. I thought, “WHY does it have to be a guy? Don’t women eat?!” I wrote a passionate letter to the network, made it my personal goal to fly 100,000 miles for 100 incredible local meals in 1 year and Foodie International was born.
Q: How long have you been a foodie?
A: Most people have vivid childhood memories of birthday parties and first days of school. I remember my first tastes of Fettucini Alfredo and beer-battered shrimp at three years old. One of the most significant moments of my childhood involved biting into a lamb chop, standing in London’s Harrods department store when I was seven. The lamb sported a paper frill that looked like a tiny white chef’s hat. I had never tasted anything like the salty, juicy flavorful meat that became an indelible childhood memory. Food has always been my greatest love, with the adventures of travel close behind.
Q: How many countries have you visited?
A: 62. Check the full list on my WHERE AM I? page.
Q:Where did you eat your favorite meal?
A: I have two favorite meals from my Foodie International travels – The first qualifies for “meal of a lifetime” and it was a Kaiseki-style dinner in Kyoto, Japan prepared by a real “Iron Chef” at Kichisen. The second is my favorite meal I keep coming back to eat: homemade tagliatelle with truffles and crispy-skinned suckling pig at Latte di Luna in Pienza, Italy.
Q: What are some of the strangest foods you’ve eaten while traveling?
A: I’ve eaten fried scorpions in Beijing, live shrimp in Shanghai and Copenhagen, boiled pig’s head in Tuscany, guinea pig in Lima, raw sea cucumber in Tokyo, haggis in Glasgow, aligator in New Orleans and a bacon-flavored milkshake in New York City.
Q: What’s the grossest thing you’ve eaten?
A: I’d have to say shirako, or the raw sperm sac of a codfish. It’s considered a delicacy in Japan, where I was served the dish during an unbelievable omakase sushi feast. I didn’t want to offend the sushi master, so I ate it – but I really didn’t like it.
Q: How do avoid getting sick while eating around the world?
A: I follow three general rules when eating abroad: 1. Eat the local yogurt. It’s full of good bacteria that will aid your digestive system. 2. Lots of hot sauce. I believe those fiery hot peppers are effective germ killers! 3. Wash it all down with the local booze. If the hot sauce didn’t anesthetize your stomach, the local moonshine will.
Q: What’s on your travel bucket list?
A: I try to accomplish as many travel goals as quickly as possible, but these are the BIG ones at the top of my list:
- Antarctica. I am trying my best to get there one day, hopefully with National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions and my favorite ice navigator, Captain Leif Skog.
- The Northern Lights. I’ve caught fleeting glimpses through an airplane window but one of my dreams is to see the Aurora Borealis in all its glory…possibly from the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.
Eating my way through San Sebastian, Spain. This Basque town is the current seat of Western cuisine. It’s one of those unbelievable foodie fantasies on the verge of becoming a reality. Stay tuned to see if I make it happen!I DID IT!!!
- Scuba Diving in Palau. I’m a PADI advanced open water diver and love the sport. Palau is just one of those extraordinary dive sites I’d love to visit one day.
- Rocamadour, France for their annual cheese festival. I’ve never been to Rocamadour, but this stunning village in the Lot Valley is home to the best cheese I’ve ever tasted. It’s no wonder that they host one of the most famous cheese festivals in France.
Q: How do you fund your blog?
A: The Foodie International project and all related travels are currently self-funded.