I’m Elyse Pasquale, a freelance food and travel journalist, web TV host and culinary adventurer. I’ve dedicated my life to exploring the world with my taste buds, connecting to people and cultures through the language of local food. I like to say “I speak food,” because it really is our universal connector, and the best tool for deeper, more meaningful travel.
With a philosophy that food is “living history,” I’ve traveled to 66 countries and more than 300 culinary destinations around the world. Over the past 5 years, I’ve explored the cutting edge of culinary tourism, looking for food adventures wherever I go. I’ve appeared on television, radio and in print as a culinary travel expert and recently filmed a 20-episode web series in New Zealand, Australia, Cambodia, Singapore and Japan.
When I’m not on the road, I split my time between New York City and southern Tuscany.
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 an open letter to the network and 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 food lover?
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, savory 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: 66. 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, chicken ovaries in Tokyo, guinea pig in Lima, raw sea cucumber (also 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. Also, a durian-flavored pudding in Singapore. It made my eyes water and the gnarly aftertaste haunted me for hours. I tried twice; couldn’t handle 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 booze. If the hot sauce didn’t anesthetize your stomach, the local moonshine will.
Q: What’s on your travel wish 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. 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.
- 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.
- Visiting Arkansas, Alaska and Montana. I only have three states left to check all 50 off the list. Arkansas is a dream, mostly because I’ve always wanted to know what squirrel tastes like.
- 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 self-funded. I’m a full-time journalist and I get paid to write, so I do not take blog trips, press trips or accept any kind of freebies. This website is ad-free and I’ve personally experienced every destination covered.
Q: Can you help me plan my own culinary adventure?
A: Yes, I consult regularly with travelers who want to step “off the beaten plate.” Email me at email@example.com for more information, including fees.