Chewing the Fat With Hecktic Travels

It’s another installment of Chewing the Fat, and this week we’re lucky to have snagged some table time with the power blogging couple behind Hecktic Travels! Dalene and Pete Heck have been traveling all over the world non-stop since 2009. They gave up their corporate lifestyle in exchange for a couple of backpacks and have visited over 30 countries together.

It’s another installment of Chewing the Fat, and this week we’re lucky to have snagged some table time with the power blogging couple behind Hecktic Travels! Dalene and Pete Heck have been traveling all over the world non-stop since 2009. They gave up their corporate lifestyle in exchange for a couple of backpacks and have visited over 30 countries together.

We always appreciate a travel blog with fantastic photography and great writing, but it’s rare to find one that excels at both. Not so with Dalene & Pete, as these two know how to take a photo that pops and always make their words sing. You never appreciate it more than when they’re sharing some of the absolutely delicious food they’ve encountered on their travels, which I think will become immediately apparent! Read on as we gab about how to take food photos that are actually appetizing, why Chile’s cuisine left them cold, just what the heck counts as Canadian cuisine, and so much more!

The duo behind Hecktic Travels: Pete & Dalene!
The duo behind Hecktic Travels: Pete & Dalene!

We’re a big fan of “foodcations”—on more than one occasion we’ve taken trips motivated solely by the desire to eat our way through our destination. Of all the places you have visited in your travels, if you were limited to only eating the food from one country, which place would you choose and why?

Dalene – I would have to say Jordan. Even though I would claim Italian as my favorite food, I would never want to be limited to it entirely. Jordan, on the other hand, has such a diverse array of dishes that I don’t think I could ever grow tired of it!

Pete – Turkish Döner. It’s my go to meal wherever we are.

And the flipside: of all the places you’ve visited, which country had your least favorite food? Why was that and were you surprised?

Dalene – Hands down, Chile was the worst. Time and time again during our month there, we had meals that either had no taste at all or were just plain bad. On the plus side, their desserts were delicious, so we would sometimes just replace our dinners with sweets.

Pete – Agreed, Chile. But they made up for it with their wine.

What’s the most exotic/adventurous edible you’ve sampled and what did you think about it?

Dalene – I am not an adventurous eater at all. Probably the most exotic food I’ve eaten is llama, and it tasted just like a steak, albeit a big gamier. Quite tasty!

Pete – Iguana stew in Roatán. Really tasty, but quite a chore to eat as they leave all the tiny bones and skin in the stew. I also tried horse meat while I was in Finland and really enjoyed it.

Trying Horse in Finland
Trying Horse in Finland

Many travelers mention succumbing to McDonald’s or other fastfood cravings while on the road… what is the guilty pleasure food that you indulge in when traveling?

Dalene – There were several times in South America where none of the food appealed to me and thus I would end up eating my trusty old standby bag of Doritos as a meal replacement. It wasn’t really out of a craving, just out of necessity. I don’t really have any guilty pleasure food.

Pete – I can honestly say I don’t have one, I eat everything on the road and don’t typically like fastfood (except döner).

Sometimes you don’t know a good thing until it’s gone! If there were one food from back home that you could eat RIGHT NOW, what would it be?

Dalene – PORK!

Pete – Yep, anything with pork. Being in a muslim country for an extended period has given us pork withdrawals.

Pork Tenderloin - Italy
Pork Tenderloin – Italy

If you knew we were coming to visit you in your hometown, what would be the one food you would make sure we tried?

Dalene – Definitely bison, which is becoming quite popular in western Canada. It is even a lot leaner than beef, and tastier. Win win!

Pete – Nanaimo bars. Would go great after the bison 🙂

We have encountered several travelers who claim there is no such thing as American or Canadian cuisine. As fellow Canucks, how do you respond to this? Are there Canadian foods beyond poutine and maple syrup? And given that you recently spent an extended stint in Wisconsin, did you notice any major differences in the American versus Canadian approach to food?

Dalene – It’s true, I don’t believe we have a strong ‘Canadian’ cuisine as other countries have. Instead ours is a combination of all the different nationalities that make up our great nation, and I think that’s even better.

Pete – In Wisconsin, there really wasn’t much difference to that of Canadian food. We were staying in a very rural location, so the food cooked by our neighbors was typically that of what we grew up with back home, lots of meat and potatoes.

On your blog you’ve mentioned several times that the two of you are quite proficient in the kitchen and like to try to recreate dishes from places you have visited. Which types of cuisine have you most successfully replicated on your own? Which country’s food have you found the most difficult to master?

Pete – I love to try and recreate the dishes of the country we are in. For example, I’ve cooked dishes from Jordan, Turkey, Honduras, Spain and Italy. I’ve been told to not even try to make Baklava, it’s much easier to go and buy it from the store. Although I’ve never tried, I’m up for the challenge.

Jordanian Cuisine
Jordanian Cuisine

One of the things we admire most about your site is the fabulous photography that you feature in every post. We have found that taking pictures that accurately convey how delicious a meal is can be really challenging, so what are your top tips for taking appealing food photos?

Pete – Angles and lighting. Know your light source and keep shadows out. Angles really help to bring out the dish. And you don’t always have to have the whole dish in the frame. Try to think of new ways to bring highlight to the meal. From the technical side a 35mm or 50mm lens works really good.

Twitter: @hecktictravels

Like what you read here and want to be featured in a future installment of Chewing the Fat? Great! We’re always looking for new people to dish about dining with! You don’t have to be a long-term traveler, or even have your own blog to participate; all you need is a healthy appetite and an appreciation for food. Contact Us letting us know that you’re interested in taking part in this series, and we’ll get back to you with all the information you need to get started.

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8 comments Leave a comment

  1. Ah, a post based solely on food, yes please!
    I appreciate the tips on taking better food photos, too… I recently attended an Indian wedding in the Caribbean and I took photos of all the spectacular food (some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had). When my aunt saw the photos, her one comment was, “It looks like the dog’s breakfast.” 🙁 hahahaha… I guess I’ll have to keep practicing!

    Aug. 16 2013 @ 10:17 am
  2. Mmmmm Nanaimo bars, I’d completely forgotten how amazing they are. I have to say we’re finding the same problems with South American food. We were chatting to a Bolivian girl today and she that people care about filling their bodies the cheapest way possible. Nutrition and food as something other than fuel just isn’t thought about.

    Aug. 16 2013 @ 2:53 pm
  3. Simon noblw

    Big news.. I’ve found a bubble tea stall in Vientiane. I approah it both trepidation and excitement for. Houston, im going in!

    Aug. 17 2013 @ 7:25 pm
  4. Great post guys! We find photographing food one of the hardest things to do-partly because we’re normally half-way through eating it before we even think about the camera, and partly because many of the foods we try on the road don’t actually look that delicious. Definitely going to take your photography tips to heart, and start researching trips to Jordan 😉

    Aug. 17 2013 @ 10:27 pm
  5. You can’t go wrong with Turkish Döner. I grew up in Germany where we have loads of Turkish restaurants and take-aways. It is especially good after a night out and you are feeling particularly greedy!

    Aug. 19 2013 @ 4:59 am
  6. Thanks for having us, and for your very kind words! This was a fun interview. 🙂

    Aug. 19 2013 @ 3:01 pm
  7. I’ve read several posts about the bland nature of South American cuisine. Food plays a major role in my travels so at least I now know to moderate my expectations when I finally make it to that continent. I appreciate the food photography tips! The lighting in restaurants can often be problematic.

    Aug. 21 2013 @ 11:06 am
  8. I second the baklava point. I’ve made it but only using pre-made pastry sheets. I can’t imagine making the pastry AND doing all that layering. So good, though. Nice interview! Would have never known Chile was so bad on the food front…

    Aug. 29 2013 @ 12:26 am

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