While it is often said that travelling opens the mind, in many instances, eating in different countries has the same effect, usually introducing intrepid travellers to cultural practices they might never have been aware of.
In Discover TLC’s new show Cruise The World, this concept is explored in more detail when four popular personalities embark on a cruise trip – literally hopping onboard cruise liners and making pitstops along the way to discover new cultural and culinary experiences. The four hosts involved in the show include Taiwanese actress and model Patty Lee, Filipino chef and winner of Food Hero Asia Anton Amoncio, Hong Kong Bloomberg TV host Yvonne Man and Chinese television presenter and Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Michele Lean.
The show is divided into four episodes and each episode sees a host travel to the home country of another host. The four places covered in the show are Hong Kong, the Philippines, Hainan and Taiwan.
“When I was told that I was to be involved in the show, I was totally overjoyed. It’s a major plus that the show involves eating and travelling because I love doing both,” says Amoncio in an e-mail interview.
As each episode incorporates different hosts and host countries, Amoncio only met and travelled with the bubbly Lee, who hosted him in Taiwan and whom he hosted in the Philippines.
The two got to know each other a little on the cruise ship and their friendship solidified in Taiwan while water-skiing at Lotus Water Park and performing with a Taiwanese traditional opera troupe. In the Philippines, their bond strengthened when they ate alligator together, visited Palawan’s underground river (a Philippines’ Unesco World Heritage Site) and reached a culinary apex when Amoncio cooked Lee a delicious seafood meal using local ingredients.
Throughout the show, Amoncio and Lee clicked over a shared love of food and he found himself having some pretty amazing culinary experiences.
“Patty and I did indeed bond over food. I had a lot of memorable food experiences throughout, but one dish stood out, and that was the vegetable and meat soup I had in Taiwan. It was so good, that I consumed two more bowls of it off-camera,” says Amoncio.
Amoncio also surprised himself by eating something he never thought he would: blood rice cake.
“People close to me know how I avoid eating anything with blood, but one of the producers of the show asked me to give it a shot and it was surprisingly pretty good,” he says.
Ultimately, Amoncio says the show has shown him just how much influence food can have in shaping a person’s cultural advancement and enlightenment when travelling.
“You learn about a certain group of people, their way of life and their geography by looking at what is on your plate. Food is embedded so deeply in one’s culture that I am confident in saying that one cannot survive without the other. The people of each nation still continue to be its lifeblood, but the food sits firmly at its very heart,” he says.
Cruise The World airs at 7.10pm every Saturday on TLC (Astro Ch 707).