Experiencing World Culture Without Leaving Home

I'm lucky to travel quite often but one of my biggest wishes in life would be to travel even more---not constantly, but pretty close. There are too many incredible places in the world for me to sit still! For many of us, it sometimes isn't possible to travel for a variety of reasons. Luckily, that doesn't mean that you can't experience different cultures.

I recently got a desk calendar from Rifle Paper Company that features an illustrated map for a city around the world each month. I decided that, each month, I want to cook a meal that corresponds to the city on my calendar. For instance, this month was Tokyo so I went to the Asian market and got all of the ingredients to make homemade miso soup as well as an udon stirfry, and a box of Pocky. 

Expanding on this concept, there are so many ways you can appreciate and experience global cultures without leaving home. I've put together some ideas for a few destinations. Keep in mind that these ideas are on the stereotypical side. I chose foods, movies, books and music that are atmospheric and easily evoke thoughts of these places. This is by no means a comprehensive list of the best things from each city.


Start the day with a cafe au lait and a little croissant from a local bakery. For lunch, try an easy frisee salad with organic red wine, a slice of cheese, and toasted baguette. Pick up some assorted bakery treats like macarons, eclairs, and tarts for when you need a treat.

Paris Cafe Jazz
Paris playlist

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelman

Midnight in Paris (2011)
Paris, Je T'aime (2006)
Hugo (2011)
Before Sunset (2004)


Start with a traditional miso soup or bowl of hot ramen. Pair this with a roll or two of sushi and a matcha tea before indulging in green tea mochi and several flavors of Pocky

Japanese Traditional Kodo & Shakuhachi Music
Japanese Pop & Indie

The Lady and the Monk by Pico Iyer
A Year in Japan by Kate T. Williamson
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Spirited Away (2001)
Lost in Translation (2003)
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)


There's nothing more quintessentially and stereotypical British than an afternoon tea, so that's what I'm going to suggest. Brew a pot of earl grey and serve alongside finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and jam. For a more Cornish approach, have potato wedges and a Cornish pasty

The Great British Breakfast
British Invasion
The Ultimate Classical Royal Wedding Album

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Love Actually (2003)
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Notting Hill (1999)
The Great British Bake Off (2010-)

New York

Honestly, I'm not going to recommend you eat pizza because if you're not in the city, you're not going to get the right pizza. Instead, have a good ole' cliche pretzel or bagel. Then, try one of the city's more contemporary iconic foods like a ramen burger, a vegan cupcake, falafel, and pierogi. 

New York City Vibes
Matt & Kim's New York City Playlist
Hamilton soundtrack

From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

Eloise at the Plaza (2003)
Gossip Girl (2007-2012)
Begin Again (2014)
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)