Vacations as a child were always a family affair. When you have an equine photographer and a geologist as parents, life takes you to some pretty weird places.

By the time I was 16, I had slept in a tent in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, kayaked the Congo in Australia, sailed the BVI's, had macaroons in Paris, cameleered around Egypt and drank my weight in virgin Piña coladas in Cuba (and turned my tongue blue at Universal Studios).

tea, ice, coffee, cocktail, vodka
Morgan Hamilton

Traveling to so many different places meant I couldn't always eat chicken fingers and fries (although I tried). I began to learn that everyone has their own version of ‘normal’ foods.

For example, when someone offers you jerky in the middle of an African safari and there aren't any cows around, there's a good chance it isn't beef. I mean, who doesn't love a piece of warthog jerky, am I right?

As a middle child, I'm easiest to pick on. My family tried to take advantage of my gullible self, so I learned quite quickly to willingly try something new with an open mind (because otherwise I would probably be tricked into it anyways). 

Morgan Hamilton

Vacationing and experiencing other culture’s foods also taught me to appreciate my own food identity. My grandfather made maple syrup every spring and, every now and then, my father would bring some on vacation with us. Nothing made buffet cruise ship pancakes or ham taste better than homemade maple syrup carefully drizzled over the top. #Canada

I also associate food with social connections, whether it's cooking together, eating together or experiencing new foods together. Food is social. Even as a kid, I would help our family friends make feasts and I learned more about Cuban culture than I ever could in a classroom. I will never look at beans and rice the same way.

One of my favourite places we ever stayed was at a campground in the Okavango in Botswana. In the morning, my family would have tea and cookies by ourselves (shoutout to the monkey that stole my sugar, I'm still waiting for it back). However, at night, we ate as a whole camp at one table. Even as an 8-year-old, you can see how easy it is to bond with people over food and some adult juice
beer, wine, tea
Morgan Hamilton

The point is that food is important to everyone, but in different ways. Vacationing as a child shaped the stories I associate with food and fuelled my passion for cultural cuisine. It's one of the reasons I became a nutrition major.

So remember,  even if you can't trust your siblings when they tell you what you are about to eat, why not bond over trying a new food? (Although, I wouldn't recommend warthog.)

wine, beer, coffee
Morgan Hamilton