‘Food is the best way to discover a place’

Cookery writer and restaurateur Thomasina Miers has curated a new street-food tour of Mexico with Intrepid Travel, which goes on sale from 15 January (intrepidtravel.com/food).

First holiday memory?

The north coast of Cornwall. It was the traditional bucket-and-spade holiday with family and my godparents. I remember chips, lots of dressing up and dancing competitions.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Wales. My father grew up there, so we used to have holidays along the Pembrokeshire coast. Later on, I also had a boyfriend who lived on Anglesey, so I spent quite a few summers there.

Best holiday?

A work trip to Mexico last year. I didn’t want to leave my new baby, so I persuaded my parents to come out and help me babysit. It was the first time they had been, so it was magical. Palenque was incredible. I’d been there 20 years before, but it’s completely changed. They’ve uncovered new pyramids since.

What have you learnt from your travels?

You have to suspend your disbelief when you travel. Things can feel a bit alien at first, but you’ve got to wait for places to unwrap themselves. You can’t expect travel to be instant gratification. It’s a discovery process.

Ideal travelling companion?

Someone who isn’t afraid to wait until we find the best restaurants. Someone who wants to uncover a bit more and scratch the surface. And someone who doesn’t want to chat all the time, but is happy to read books too.

Greatest travel luxury?

An iPad. I normally pack six huge tomes and lug them around, so it’s wonderful not having all that extra baggage.

Holiday reading?

I’ve just finished Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which I took on a work trip. I didn’t have my daughter with me, so I suddenly had all this time to read, which was such a joy.

Where has seduced you?

Cambodia. I had never been to that part of Asia before, so I found the nature of it and the friendliness of the people quite intoxicating. The temples at Angkor Wat were spectacular too.

Better to travel or arrive?

It’s nice to arrive, find your feet and eat your first bit of street food that encapsulates a country. Food is always the best way to discover a country.

Worst travel experience? 

Arriving in Santiago, Chile, when I was 23 to work for an advertising agency. I’d come from the Brazil carnival so I was hungover and broke. I checked into this horrible B&B where the owner started shouting at me because he thought I had drugs on me or something. It was my birthday. I was on my own and I remember feeling very alone.

Best hotel?

The Siam in Bangkok. The rooms are enormous, with beautiful beds, amazing high ceilings and incredible artefacts and antiques. It’s a treasure trove, run by some really delightful people.

Best meal abroad?

Street food in Oaxaca. Outside the 20 Novembre market, they make pozolé, a pork stew slowly cooked for hours. You get this wonderful clear broth, which they flavour with oregano, bay leaf and chilli and chunks of corn. You top it off with wafer-thin cabbage, radish and coriander, then squeeze fresh lime juice over it.

Favourite city?

Lisbon. I spent two months there learning Portuguese as a student and thought it was the most romantic city I’d ever been to.

Where next?

I’m planning a trip to Japan this year. I think it’s going to be a real adventure.