Danielle Corcione has an unusual mix of food preferences and recommendations, from southern India, the Czech Republic, and from the Jersey Shore and Brooklyn in the U.S. While Danielle has some dietary restrictions, that seems to be doing nothing to stop her from trying and enjoying food. How refreshing! Find more of Danielle’s writing at DanielleCorcione.com.
1. Who are you and how does food play into your travels? My name is Danielle Corcione. In the past year, I studied abroad for four months in South India, spent weekends in DC and Denver, and road-tripped across the country last month for two weeks. As someone who maintains a vegan diet, suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and loves trying new cuisines, food plays a huge role in my travels. I always need to investigate the ingredients of dishes before eating them. Once I finally find something new that works with my stomach, it’s a personal victory.
2. You’re at your favourite eatery with three companions (fictional, living or dead). Where (and when!) are you, and who are you with? I’m with Ellen DeGeneres, Ricky Gervais, and Franz Kafka, mostly because I’m interested to see how they’d react to each other as two comedians with a twentieth-century mystical writer. Plus, they also wouldn’t mind eating at a place that doesn’t serve animal products. We’re eating dinner at the Jersey shore. I have so many favorites in the central Jersey area. I adore Earth Pizza, Surf Taco, and Good Karma in Red Bank; and Talula’s Pizza, Brickwall, and Twisted Tree in Asbury Park.
3. What are your favourite foods? I love veggie burgers. I’m not a fan of your typical garden burger, though. Those are pretty gross. There’s different types of veggie burgers, but personally, I enjoy burgers made from black beans, tempeh, and beets.
4. Is there anything that you’d never eat? What is it and why? I refrain from animal products philosophically, but I am allergic to mushrooms and strongly dislike onions. I don’t know what it is about onions exactly. I’ve been told that onions aren’t great for people with digestive disorders, so it might be a taste aversion thing. I’m also not a huge fan of cilantro.
5. What do you crave but can’t get whilst on the road? How do you satisfy the craving? I’m a sucker for Daiya cheese. It’s alternative dairy cheese made with tapioca flour from a Vancouver-based company. If I‘m traveling abroad, this is especially difficult to find. To suffice the craving, I try to find a western vegan restaurant that sells dairy, meat, and egg alternatives. If that’s not possible, anything salty suffices.
Ed.’s note: From Vancouver?! I just heard about this product, but had no idea it was a local one for me.
6. What food are you embarrassed to admit you like to eat? I love potatoes. It might be borderline addiction. When I was in South India, I’d eat mashed potatoes nearly every night with my dinner and normally, they’d conquer the plate. I also found myself tracking down the closest food vendor that sold Lay’s. It was actually awesome there were so many flavors of Lay’s in India (Magic Masala, West Indies’ Hot ‘n’ Sweet Chili, etc.) that you can’t get in the United States and I made a spectacle about trying each one.
Ed.’s note: I think you need to take a trip to Canada … not only to stock up on Daiya cheese but to try our wide variety of potato chip flavours too.
7. What / where do you dream of eating, but haven’t yet had the pleasure? As a potato enthusiast, I always dreamt of eating French fries in Idaho. Fortunately, this dream came true. I visited Boise on a road trip with my dad earlier this month and I was baffled by how many potatoes were offered at the Boise Fry Company. They had more than just fries, but c’mon, what more could you need?
8. Strangest meal? On that note, I’ve had exclusively potato-based dishes for dinner. I’m not sure if that’s strange or passionate.
9. Ever had food poisoning while traveling? Any advice to share? Although I’m not sure if it was food poisoning, I had such bad stomach problems one night in India that I almost went to the hospital. I’m not sure what sparked it, but I was in wrenching pain for about eight hours. As for advice, I’d take note of the local hospital facilities and who to contact (for instance, if you’re in an exchange program) in the area you’re visiting before any problems arise. Although I didn’t have to necessarily take action, I knew my resources at hand and knew how to use them to my advantage if symptoms worsened.
10. Have you fallen so much in love with a foreign dish that you learned to make it at home? What’s the story? I’m actually not much of cook so unfortunately, this question doesn’t apply to me. Hopefully, in the near future when I move into my new apartment, I will be a little more hands-on in the kitchen!
Ed.’s note: I can barely cook either, Danielle, but I took a cooking class in Thailand and learned to make my favourite Thai dish, pad kra prao. Surprisingly easy!
11. What’s the first thing you eat after returning home from a long trip? Pizza!
12. Favourite foreign ingredient you wish your home supermarket carried? Masala spice.
13. Country / city where you’ve found the best food? Details please so we can check it out too! Compared to other places I’ve traveled, India has delicious options in my opinion. It’s great for non-meat eaters as well. My favorite dishes were dosa (a fermented crèpe made from rice batter and black lentils) and Gobi Manchurian fried cauliflower (drenched in sweet sauce, similar to General Tso’s).
14. Country / city where you’ve found the worst? What made it so awful? The Czech Republic was difficult to eat as a vegan. This was when I was still eating cheese and eggs, so it didn’t make it difficult for me when I visited Prague, but if I returned, it would be a little more challenging to eat. I don’t think a vegan could eat anything Czech other than potatoes without butter. I struggle with this because I’m so into Czech culture and see myself returning for an extended period of time. The same goes for France.
15. Do you have favourite markets for a) buying stuff to eat b) finding unusual things (which you may or may not want to actually eat!) and c) just for taking photos? I went to college miles from the Ramsey Farmers Market in New Jersey. Although it’s not exactly famous around the world, it’s the first type of market that exposed me to the local food movement. In fact, one stand really got me into kale. Otherwise, I loved visiting marketplaces in Paris.
16. If money were no object, where (and what) would you eat? I’d probably move to Brooklyn and eat regularly from M.O.B., Little Choc Apothecary, and Brooklyn Mac. There’s also so many vegan/vegetarian places I haven’t tried that I could explore. (I’d also invite my friends to move in with me and order them food all the time.)
Ed.’s note: Wow … those turtle cookies on the Little Choc Apothecary website look amazing …
17. Do you have any food regrets? I regret not stocking up on BBQ chips before I left to study in India. My dad ended up sending me a care package with over a dozen bags in it.
18. If you could invent any ice cream flavour, what would it be? (yes, I am looking for ideas to add to my ice cream repertoire!) I’d invent a masala-avocado, dairy-free ice cream. While in Brno, Czech Republic, I visited a vegan-friendly restaurant that sold avocado popsicles and they were amazing. I’d love to combine that memory with one from India.
19. What do you love and hate about food writing (yours and/or in general)? I hate always having to think of “the best” places, dishes, etc. for stories and of course, reading them from other places. I think it can be isolating if you deem your personal recommendations as the best. Sure, I rave about places I’ve visited that I enjoy, but I don’t intend to hold them higher than others, because I probably haven’t even been to the “good” places anyway. I also think the best adventure happens without much guidance, and sometimes, we get lost in guidebooks and the Internet about the places “we should see” that we forget to explore aimlessly on our own.
Ed.’s note: Agreed!
20. You’re having surgery tomorrow and there’s a reasonable chance you’ll lose your ability to taste (oh the horrors!). What would you choose as, essentially, your last meal? Fruit: I love berries, kiwi, and mango. I’d munch on samosas and dosa, drenched in manchurian sauce, then top it off with vegan pizza. For dessert: dark chocolate melted on top of banana whip.
Danielle Corcione recently graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she studied abroad in South India and in the Czech Republic. She also frequently traveled the U.S. through academic conferences and events. Her travel writing has appeared on Pink Pangea and Bridge From Abroad. Additionally, Cry Love: More New Voices anthologized her poetry earlier this year. Her website is DanielleCorcione.com; be friendly on social media at: