“Food tourism is the act of traveling for a taste of place to get a sense of place.”
-Erik Wolf, Executive Director, World Food Travel Association
When I first moved to the States, I would literally dream of walking through the grocery store and buying all my favorite food that I could no longer get. I also get excited when a favorite food item shows up in my local grocery store, and I admit to when the longing gets really bad, actually ordering food online to get a little taste of home. Why am I telling you all this? Because I genuinely believe that food IS culture or at least a considerable part of it, and so it becomes a massive part of who you are as a person. Imagine England with no fish and chips, Italy without pasta, or Vietnam without Pho. It’s impossible because it is so embedded in their identity as a country and a culture.
My husband and I are admitted foodies, so when we travel, one of our favorite ways to immerse ourselves in the local culture is through food and drink. We can remember every phenomenal meal or food experience we have enjoyed while traveling. If you are the same as us, then you are a culinary traveler.
Food and drink are an interest and the primary motivation in selecting our next destination for some of us. As foodies, we enjoy spending more time and money on these authentic culinary experiences, which ground us to the culture of the place we are visiting. We plan our entire trip around the hawker centers of Singapore, lessons at a culinary school in Paris, or a bespoke visit to Borough Market in London. These memorable food and drink experiences make us remember a trip fondly, and we are more likely to return to that destination.
So, the question now is, what is culinary travel?
It is a trip of discovery to a new destination that revolves around its food and processes. This journey could be as simple as a coveted reservation at a 3-star Michelin restaurant, a hands-on cooking class with a world-renowned chef, or visiting an organic farm where a food revolution is taking place. Culinary travel allows us to view culture through its cuisine and to break bread with locals. This sharing of meals is the best way to really connect with a place you seek to understand. As culinary interest continues to flourish, there are more options out there for the foodie traveler, ranging from city tours to cooking classes in restaurants to a tour and private meal/wine tasting at a chateau in Bordeaux.
Some of the ways you can incorporate culinary travel into your journeys:
- Don an apron for a cooking class
- Explore with a market tour
- Take a city food tour
- Visit a vineyard
- Go on a brewery or distillery tour
- Stay up late for the night markets
- Explore street food
Timing a trip well can be crucial for significant events, such as a destination’s Restaurant Week, Christmas Markets, an annual harvest, or a food or brew festival. Travel consultants can help you navigate which of these culinary events are really unique and worthy of your time and which ones you would find sorely disappointing. For example – Gastropote in San Sebastian, Spain, takes place every Thursday evening with live music, vendors selling tapas, and wine. It’s a locals-only event and an enjoyable, authentic experience. It would be a shame to miss it by a day.
I am here to help you create these lasting memories in whatever language you choose.