12. Eating off the Unbeaten Path with Monique of SWOLE (Foodies Take Flight)

Show Notes

In this episode, we’ll learn more about Monique, a travel professional and owner of Soaring Without Limits Enterprises (SWOLE). She has been to more than 30 countries and shares her knowledge about food and travel. 

This is the third installment of Foodies Take Flight, a series where Jess talks with world travelers, expats and citizens of countries outside of the United States about their food experiences. Whether you have wanderlust and want inspiration for your next trip, or you’re a homebody who just wants a mental vacation, Foodies Take Flight will take you up and away.

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Monique and SWOLE

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Please note that this transcript is computer generated and may contain grammar/word errors.

Jess 0:14
Hi, it’s Jess and welcome to another episode of The flaky foodie podcast. The only show where the discussion is delicious and there’s chatter to chew on. On today’s episode, we’re going to continue our foodies take place series by talking to a travel professional. The foodies take flight series is where I talk with people who’ve traveled or lived in all parts of the world about their food experiences. This will be the fourth installment of this series. If you’ve missed any of the others, you’ve missed out. We’ve been to Asia, we’ve been around the world with local scales, and we’ve also talked about traveling while vegan. So check some of the past episodes out those are episodes nine through today’s episode 12 But for now let’s sit back and enjoy the flight as we talk with Monique of soar without limits enterprises after a brief message

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Welcome back. Today we have on the show Monique Pearson. She’s the founder and CEO of soaring without limits enterprises, which is a travel company at agency and she’s here to kind of talk about the countries that she’s visited and the food that she’s eaten there. So welcome so much, Monique to the show.

Monique, SWOLE 3:08
Well, thanks for having me, Jess. I’m so happy to be here and to be able to share with your listeners.

Jess 3:12
Yes. So tell me a little bit more about the places that you’ve traveled so far.

Monique, SWOLE 3:17
Um, well, let’s see, I wrote down some of the heavy hitters I’ve been to Egypt, Bucharest, London, Barcelona, Thailand, Greece, Berlin, Japan, Korea, France, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Serbia, Switzerland, prime Dubai. So that’s just to name a few. It’s been like 30 plus countries. So I just pick some of the ones that I’ve been to thus far.

Jess 3:45
Awesome. So how did you kind of get started traveling? Or did you how did you realize that traveling is something that you enjoyed?

Monique, SWOLE 3:53
Um, well, I pretty much knew that. That was a passion of mine at a young age, I will say starting at 10. Growing up in upstate New York, a small town, I just knew that there was more to the world than what I saw. So initially, the gateway for me was the military. So that is what started my international travels. And then once I got out, I just continued to travel myself to continue to explore the world, which has always been a passion of mine. And luckily, I’ve been able to continue to keep that

Jess 4:26
going. When you’ve traveled to all of these different countries. What are some of like the best baits that you remember and kind of what countries are they from?

Monique, SWOLE 4:35
I will say the ones that I remember definitely Italy that’s a bias because I love Italian food. I actually lived in Italy for three years. So of course having the originators of what we consider to be pasta. It was definitely a BEST difference because of them not having all the preservatives and all the chemicals that we had in our food, which just made everything taste that much richer when it came to the red sauce the pasta tomatoes. Gnocchi which is like a pasta dish, which is similar I will say to our mac and cheese but way lighter floats in your mouth. The ravioli type new, not as much cheese is just an experience that you have to taste. For the Eastern Europe countries I will say far as for Bucharest, Bosnia and Serbia, I noticed that you do not eat meat. So for those who are also non meat eaters, they offer a plethora of options. One that I definitely enjoyed, which I will say it’s called the Shopska salad. Again, it is pretty much pure vegetables with no preservatives, your cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and they have a special type of cheese that they use. Similar to feta cheese, I would say somewhat, but a little lighter, a natural made made from scratch dressing that complements it that I think was something that was a constant staple that I had when I went over there and they also have like a spinach wrap I would say was wrapped with a leaf, some you can even have a vegetarian option, or you can have a neat option that was also another great dish. I have a little list or a free gift that I wanted to give to your listeners with some of these type of authentic Middle Eastern dishes because it’s very hard to pronounce if I were to try I wrote it down so I definitely want to share that at the end. For those who are interested I put down the top native dishes and gave pictures of what they look like so if anyone wants to go visit these places, they can definitely know what to choose from in what to try

Jess 6:50
Thank you. So what are some ingredients from your travels that you know if you were to visit that country you would put a bunch of it in your suitcase to take back home something that maybe you kind of put into your own cooking at home

Monique, SWOLE 7:05
I would definitely save for Italy was the olive oil I did not know how much of a draft address difference there was between our olive oil and having it straight from the press from the field and our herbs from over there. That was something that was a constant staple for me living in Italy that I must have was the olive oil I think I sent that home in bottles in droves for me another one that I noticed I will say flowers for that was good for spices of course was Thailand those who like Thai food and or a little bit spicy I personally can handle that on my digestive system but I know that is a common staple. And Egypt I will say was also another good one for spices but they have more so like a grainy type texture. So their food that I will say wasn’t my tastes but to each his own farms depending on your palate, which your preferences are but those were the mainstays they are then of course for Italy it was the wine handed down given. If I will say you will have to try. There’s no comparison, the best that I’ve ever had in my life. First, we’re going there to complement those great dishes that you have

Jess 8:24
when you travel. Are you more of a person who kind of eats at kind of safe standard places? Are you someone who goes off the beaten path and tries to eat like what the locals eat?

Monique, SWOLE 8:35
I’m actually I will say a blend of both. I definitely am cautious to make sure that the cleanliness, I definitely don’t want to get any food poisoning. So I think I’m very cautious to make sure that I try some of the local dishes but to make sure that it is probably still like midway not too much off, I would say far as the beaten path a couple of countries that I have been to that were off the beaten path and that’s actually what the name of the free gift is eating in Eastern Europe on the unbeaten path was from recommendations I’m more likely to listen to those who have been to these places and can vouch for the quality and the caliber of the food. So I will say for me it’s a blend of both. Okay,

Jess 9:23
so what’s the most adventurous dish that you’ve eaten? Hmm from another country?

Monique, SWOLE 9:30
I will say for me, it would probably be Korea we had a barbecue and they spit roasted a pig like right there. started up a fire and had an actual full pig and she just roasted for hours and hours and I just like okay, tried it. They also have a dish called que Dogi which is a delicacy there which is a prime little dog that they breed for. This is considered A milligram. I personally couldn’t partake. But I know a couple that haven’t spoke of it. But yeah, I just couldn’t. I seen the little dogs that they breed just for this. I just personally couldn’t partake. But for those who would like to try and adventurous dish, there’s one for you to try. That’s a dish

Jess 10:14
that maybe surprised you to where, you know, sit in front of you. And you’re like, I’m not sure about this, but it was actually delicious. Do anything come to mind?

Monique, SWOLE 10:26
Let me think. I’ll actually say I think when I went to Germany, and they had for know, pretty much people aren’t familiar with Smith. So which is a breaded type dish. I think that was my first time ever tasting like a guy roll made of lamb. So I think that was actually pretty good. And then I had a great lamb type dish. When I went to Bahrain, they had that I think that was the best that I’ve had. Foreigners when it comes to lamb chops. Similar version of what we call lamb chops is when I went to Bahrain. I think that was far something that was actually quite tasty that I didn’t think I didn’t word wasn’t I didn’t have a opinion, either way, or whether or not I would enjoy it. But I actually did. It was very, actually very good.

Jess 11:14
Okay, let’s do kind of like a fun exercise. If you got to hop on a plane tomorrow and get breakfast from anywhere in the world. Where would you go

Monique, SWOLE 11:23
practice? Hmm. I will say probably the best breakfast spread that I had. Because really, they I don’t think most of these countries were very known for breakfast, but I will say Santorini Greece. When I went there that all homemade spreads jellies jams that they had were spectacular. That’s what I Oh, yeah. Oh, shaker Santorini.

Jess 11:48
Okay, for lunch. If you could fly anywhere in the world tomorrow for a great lunch where I’ll go back to

Monique, SWOLE 11:54
Thailand. I’ll go back to Thailand for lunch. Okay.

Jess 12:01
And so for dinner, where would you go?

Monique, SWOLE 12:06
I think for dinner, I might have to go back to Italy. Yeah. I’ll go back to Italy for dinner.

Jess 12:11
Okay, and now for dessert? Where would you go for great dessert.

Monique, SWOLE 12:17
Hmm. To be honest with you. None of these places stood out as far as having great dessert. person, like if I haven’t deserved I want it to be sweet. And they really do do sugar to the extent that we do here, which is probably healthy. But for me, I really stepped away from the desserts because they just weren’t sweet enough to me. So yeah, skip dessert this time around. So I can learn it. Okay. If I had to pick one, then I will go back to Italy again and get a gelato. Yeah, those were for those of us who are lactose intolerant, like myself, I was the gelato did not mess up my digestive tract. Really, that’s really nice. I can eat that as much as I want to on like ice cream. And it didn’t cause me any problems.

Jess 13:07
Okay. So tell me a little bit more about your business. I understand that your kind of key mission is to make people feel like more empowered when they travel. So can you tell me a little bit more about that and kind of how it came to be? Okay.

Monique, SWOLE 13:23
Yes, so soaring without limits enterprises affectionately known as well. That’s what makes it easier, was actually brought about during the pandemic Farzi idea for me to take all of this experience that I have in regards to travel and be able to make it a business. And the main premise of this business is to empower women to get out and live their travel dreams and goals. I know as women, we’re moms were caretakers, were bosses. And a lot of times everyone comes first before us. So this is a form me travel is a form of self care. And that is encouraging her to put herself first and take that trip that she has been stalling on whether it be because of family obligations, work obligations, not having a companion, just to encourage her and empower her to get out there and live her best life. And that means going out there and seeing the world getting out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself to other cultures. So we offer online training for those who would like to learn more about travel as to how to travel safely, more efficiently. I have an online course called I believe I can fly that ladies can sign up for. I also offer retreat services forest coordinating for those who like to do spiritual retreats. Those who would like to do just do a getaway for businesses as well as professional personal entities as well as arranging those upscale trips and also Providing travel for those who may be interested in solo travel, predominantly, the 30 countries that I traveled to, within the past four or five years, I did so solo. And I just saw how that empowered me to get out of my comfort zone to get out of my box. I will say I’m more so on the introvert side, it just encouraged me to meet people. And every time on all of these travels, I met another American, another woman who I can join forces with once there if I wanted to and to explore. So I know a lot of us women are apprehensive about traveling solo, but I just am an advocate supporter of it. Because one, you don’t have to make any compromises. If you want to sleep in you can if you want to go here you can you don’t have to. I just personally am a fan. I know it’s not for everyone. But that’s a part of the empowerment, to see to step outside of your comfort zone. And I believe you don’t know what you would like or don’t like until you at least give it a try. We also offer like buddy companion travel groups comparing services as well. So pretty much anything in the realm of travel. My target market is working with women, sharing my experience, sharing my knowledge and giving them those tools that they need to empower them to be able to step outside of the box and get out there and get those steps. Awesome.

Jess 16:22
So what are some tips that you may have for someone who is a foodie and travels to kind of get the best, most authentic food I was visiting a country,

Monique, SWOLE 16:31
I will recommend this which I found to be very helpful. Instead of going to like the big touristy sites, a lot of these countries offer local tour guides from the locals themselves. And they’re totally free and you work off tips. And a lot of them give great, great great food restaurant recommendations and tell you where to go. And a lot of them is included, actually they’ll do stops, whether they be little bar trails or little appetizers. So I have found that a lot of the recommendations that I got for food came from that and it’s coming from a local okay,

Jess 17:06
what are some kind of surprises that you had when it comes to like traveling and trying another country’s cuisine? Are there any just like, Ha, well, the American version of this is this way, but the actual country’s version is another is another way?

Monique, SWOLE 17:22
Hmm. Um, I will say since Bob Dudley, most of these countries were totally different foods than American. So the closest one I guess, because everyone pretty much knows Italian food. Their lasagna does not have ricotta cheese in it. That was what I found surprising. I always made the assumption and I’m sure there’s more than meet others who think the same that the ingredients that we use were what Italians use. So that was one surprising fact that I found out they do not use ricotta cheese in their in their lasagna, which I found to be quite interesting. And it has a definitely different taste to it as well. I personally can make it I just particular some of my Italian friends who made it for me and I was like, Oh, this tastes a little different. But it was still delicious. But they do not use ricotta cheese.

Jess 18:10
So what are some flavor, some flavor combinations? Maybe when you’re traveling to where you’re like, I’ve never expected this to work together, but it does. Do you have any stories like that to

Monique, SWOLE 18:23
share? flavor combination? Well, a lot of these places to be honest with you, I do not know all the ingredients, especially like feature in Bucharest and yeah, these places I was just like, Okay, what is this? Okay, I’ll try it. I really didn’t know all of the ingredients. I was really stepping out on the ledge there by just going off the recommendations of others. So a lot of the ingredients I didn’t even know what I was eating to be honest with you are there any dishes that you kind of learn how to make at home or are interested in learning how to make it home since traveling? Um, I will say for since predominantly when I was over there and majority of my job was traveling. So I was on travel like 50% of the time. So I really did not get to practice I will say to make any of them and as I said a lot of them I was taken to by locals, so I didn’t have like a recipe or anything for reference. So unfortunately yes, I did not get to make most of these dishes while I was home because while I was home I was pretty much packing up to go on another trip. So yeah, I was on travel nonstop for the past four years.

Jess 19:35
How has the pandemic affected your travel? Oh,

Monique, SWOLE 19:39
gravely, like pretty much a person like me who travels. Even during that time when I was living in Italy, I was on travel every month, coming back to the states and the end of 2019 right before the pandemic kicked off. I will say for 2020 If I only went out of the country twice, so For me, that is like a screeching, drastic halt quality of life adjustment. I’ve never spent so much time in my home before that I have within the past two years. So it definitely created an ache and a yearning. Because that is a lifestyle for me. traveling internationally that is

Jess 20:18
so so where’s home base for you?

Monique, SWOLE 20:20
Currently, I live in Lansdale, PA, which is like right outside of Philly,

Jess 20:25
where there are ways that you kind of found found ways to kind of bring traveling to you, or to kind of get that experience of traveling without going anywhere to maybe try new regional international cuisine that maybe in your home home city. Well, as

Monique, SWOLE 20:41
you all know, pretty much the predominant thing that Philly is known for is cheese steaks. So yeah, I was. So it’s like, I found some good ones of those. But I mean, it’s still pretty much not the same. The only two locations I did get to go to last year was Cancun. And then I went back to Dubai in September and took a group over there. And I was quite surprised the last time I was there in 2009. So going in 2021 as to how much they have grown, and they’re pretty much very international when it comes to their food taste. I saw some of everything flowers, Italian, Indian, pretty much there was like a mini United States, I was quite shocked. As far as the international cuisine that they had available. Do you

Jess 21:29
eat? I know you eat cheese steaks, being from near Philly and all. But do you eat international cuisine at home? Do you kind of seek it out? Like, hey, I need something different? Or do you mostly kind of stick with what’s popular?

Monique, SWOLE 21:43
I like to try these dishes authentically in the respective country? So no, I would say I do not eat it at home. To me, I don’t think it will be authentic as to coming from the origin of where it comes from.

Jess 21:57
Did you do any domestic the height of COVID or as COVID kind of died down and you still necessarily couldn’t travel internationally. But you could travel out domestically across the US?

Monique, SWOLE 22:08
I would say no, I really was very cautious. Initially on the onset, when it came to travel, I really didn’t travel much. Besides like a couple hours away. I have family in Maryland. So that was pretty much as far as I went. I will say like the first year and a half when it comes to domestic travel. But my preference is and always has been international because I figure I’m always going to return back to the United States. And then being in the military. I got to see quite a bit of the states there. But for me, it’s always a preference for international.

Jess 22:42
So thank you so much for coming on the show today. Really appreciate having you here is how can people find more information about your business? So Well,

Monique, SWOLE 22:54
thank you for having me. I’m just getting I’m definitely looking forward to as I said to share with your listeners, those who weren’t eating on the unbeaten path. I have more specifics and examples and breakdown of some of these dishes or the places that I went to. In Bucharest or gain Bulgaria Bosnia I chose places that people wouldn’t obviously otherwise think of one I would like to share with them is eating in a castle that only has six exclusive rooms based off of our actors and actresses. It has one chef pretty much custom made food so it is spectacular that is on there. I’m making get that www that eating the unbeaten path that pages To reach Swan without limits enterprises. You can reach us at info soaring without or soaring without limits. That net and we’re also on social media IG and Facebook under soaring without limits as well if those wants to get in contact with me and LinkedIn under Monique Pearson

Jess 24:04
Okay, awesome. Yes, you guys make sure to check her out. Thank you again so much for being on the show. Monique and make sure you take advantage of that offer on her website. And that link will be in the show notes and also on my website www dot the flaky Thank you all so much for listening. Make sure you treat this episode like gospel the gospel and tell someone about it and eat something delicious. And if it’s really delicious. Tell me all about it on social media. My handles are the flaky foodie on all platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Have a great week everybody

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