This interview is part of our Love Mondays series, bringing you stories of digital nomad couples from around the world who love their Mondays! You can read more about the series here.
Rosemary and Claire from Authentic Food Quest are a couple who are on a quest to discover authentic food from around the world. We spoke to them about the challenges of continuous travel, the best food they’re eaten, and why they decided to embrace to digital nomad lifestyle.
What motivated you to travel full time?
Our dream has been to start our own business and it’s something we had been talking and thinking about for a few years. We were seeking independence (from our corporate jobs) and the opportunity to lead our own projects.
We didn’t have a precise idea about what to do until we started reading about online and location independent entrepreneurship. Rosemary was inspired by the possibility of not being fixed to a particular location. And for Claire, the ability to travel around the world with a purpose was a dream becoming a reality. We then decided to combine our love for food and passion for travel to start this travel adventure to experience authentic food around the world.
How do you make your money on the road?
We launched our business sooner than expected due to changes in our personal circumstances. As a result, we went off without having finalized our business concept. Let’s just say, the universe gave us a ‘push to go for it’ as we would have probably spent too much time ‘perfecting’ the idea.
Right now, we are working on it as we go, learning and absorbing all we can from webinars, podcasts, like-minded travel bloggers, online training, etc. We planned our trip financially so that we could live from our savings for at least one year. We have also reduced our monthly living expenses by three times as compared to our life in Los Angeles.
Our goal is to create an online program around travel and food to sustain our travels. We are currently working on a few ideas and hope to be able to launch something soon.
Food is obviously your passion – what is the best meal you’ve eaten on your journey so far?
Ouff… that’s a tough question to narrow it down to only one meal.
In terms of best meal for its best ingredients, best cuisine and great setting, Claire would go with Maria Antoineta in Mendoza. She ordered the hamburger which is a pretty standard meal (almost boring when you are traveling overseas!) but this one was exceptional. The bread melted in the mouth, the cheese was excellent, the Argentina red meat cooked to perfection (not too red, not too cooked) and the delicious preparation of sauce and vegetables with flavourful tomatoes… a delight!
Rosemary will have to go with the incredible empanadas from Salta, which is in the North of Argentina. We had heard about empanadas Salteñas and we are so glad our quest took us there to experience them. We found what we think is the best empanadas place in Salta, a little joint, not fancy place called La Tacita. We ended up going there three times and each time ordering more and more. So good, so delicious – especially the carne (meat) empanadas.
In terms of best meal for its best unusual ingredients, flavours, and settings we would go with Kuhska Restaurant in Tilcara, which is in the Northest part of Argentina. There we ordered the cazuela de llama, which is a casserole of llama meat prepared with native potatoes (papas andinas). This was an unusual and surprising taste. We were pleasantly surprised with how tender the Ilama meat was and the delicious combination with the potatoes in a creamy sauce. Absolutely yummy and a great experience as well.
You are a gay couple – have you found some countries are more open to accepting you than others? Where would you say has been the best hotspot to travel to so far as a gay couple?
We started this travel adventure by choosing countries that are said to be gay friendly. It is an important consideration on our travel planning.
However, we think that it is difficult to generalise that some countries are more open than others. In a way, we get what we put out… in most cases we have good connections with people and are open and friendly, and that’s what we get back.
In travelling, the most important thing is to be open and respectful regardless of sexual orientation.
Most of the large cities in the countries we have visited have restaurants, bars and clubs catering to the gay community. Our favorites hotspots have been Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lesbos (Greece), Miami, Paris, and Puerto Vallarta (Mexico).
What does the future hold – where do you see yourself in a few years time? Still travelling?
Our plan is to continue traveling and touring the world’s tables, farmers markets and food stores. We are not giving ourselves a particular ‘end date’ and we will keep going until we decide we are ready to stop. However, one of things we would like is to have a base, a place to resource and rest. We enjoy travelling and will always find a way to keep doing it. The way we travel may change over time, but we will not cease to travel.
What challenges have you faced on the journey so far?
The most challenging part of our journey has been to juggle work/life/planning/traveling all together, at the same time.
One way we are trying to alleviate this but it is not always possible is to try to do slow(er) travel and stay longer at places and block off time to work.
One other challenge we have faced is that in some regions it has been difficult to have a consistent internet connection. In cases like this, it might take us three hours to post up an article when it would take us no more than one hour normally to download pictures and set up the article. This can be very frustrating!
What has been the most rewarding part to your journey?
Discovering, discovering, discovering… the places, people and food. It has been a fascinating and endless experience! We got a chance to meet with Argentina’s top chef, Francis Mallmann, which was very unexpected and wonderful.
The most rewarding part of our journey thus far has been when we get curious and wonder off the beaten path. For example, when we were in Mendoza, Argentina, we learned that Tomatican (a tomato based stew) was a specialty of the region. Given our quest for authentic food, we knew we needed to try it.
Unfortunately, there were no restaurants serving this dish, so we went to the farmers market and wandered around in search of Tomatican. We didn’t find it at the market, but were advised to check out a nearby Vegetarian buffet-style restaurant that might be serving the dish. But we went to the restaurant and didn’t find any.
We talked to the host and mentioned our quest for authentic food and Tomatican. We were not ready to eat at that moment, and told the host we would be back about two hours later. When we got back, we were so surprised because they made Tomatican just for us to taste. We were blown away and so touched that they would go out of their way at a busy lunch hour to prepare the meal just for us.
What tips would you give to other digital nomad travellers looking to make the leap in to fulltime travel?
1. Keep in mind that there is never a perfect time to do it, so do it now!
2. Plan your trip in terms of organizing the first few months and have a financial plan, including a bank account set up for free foreign transaction fees and no ATM fees (or reimbursement of ATM fees).
3. Planning is good but allow for some spontaneity as things happen on the road and you might want to stay longer at some place or someone might inspire you to take a detour to a different region.