I’m Elyse Pasquale, a freelance food and travel journalist, 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 70 countries and more than 300 culinary destinations around the world. Over the past 8 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 Portland, Oregon 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: 70. 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, alligator 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’m always up for a food adventure, anywhere! Here are three of my top travel goals:
- Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Season in Japan. I’ve visited Japan in autumn and late spring, but I’d love to experience the cherry blossoms and all related festivities!
- Alaska – My 50th State! I’ve managed to make my way to 49 of the 50 States, but Alaska is my final frontier. I’d love to experience an “UnCruise” as well as serious salmon fishing/eating.
- Rocamadour, France for their annual cheese festival. I’ve never been to Rocamadour, but this stunning village in the Lot Valley is home to one of my favorite cheeses! It’s no wonder that they host one of the most famous cheese festivals in France.
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.