Do you travel to eat? Plan vacations around food? Obviously, a love of all things food is a driving factor.
However, individuals participate in foodie travel for all types of reasons such as
- Exploring regional dishes
- Experiencing something new
- Eating the best there is in the area
Let’s delve a little deeper into these reasons, Before we’re done we’ll share some ideas on how you can make the most of traveling to your next foodie destination.
Explore Regional Food During Foodie Travel
Waffles in Belgium.
Cheesesteak in Pennsylvania.
Poutine in Canada.
Exploring regional dishes may be a way to taste something that is not available in any other place.
I once tasted a delicious fizzy red wine produced in a small pub in Venice, Italy.
They did not export or sell beyond their shop.
If I want that wine again I need to return. It’s one of a kind.
Regional recipes reflect the culture of the people who live there.
The stories and history that connect the food to the region can be fascinating.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why the dish even exists to begin with?
Available local ingredients. A geographical area’s natural resources will determine which food sources are available to its people. A location near the sea will naturally have many regional dishes containing the most abundant seafood available.
Iceland’s traditional dishes reflect the limited availability of ingredients due to harsh weather conditions and isolation. When you visit there you’ll be treated to weather delicious local seafood and lamb recipes that have been eaten for hundreds of years.
The economy during certain periods of time dictates what people eat.
The potato has been a staple of Irish cuisine for hundreds of years. Potatoes are simple to grow and thrive in the boggy Irish landscape. Even the poorest of farmers could count on a meal of potatoes three times a day. Therefore, out of necessity, potato dishes became regional Irish cuisine.
Social and political influences will inspire culinary creativity. Alcohol was banned during Prohibition in the United States. The concocting of homemade spirits resulted from politics and a cocktail culture arose through social influences. As a result, creative cocktails made from “Bathtub Gin” became wildly popular.
Political unrest during the 20th century in the Catalan region of Spain resulted in a beautiful bite we know today as La Bomba. Created by a bar owner, Maria Pla, this spicy round treat has become an iconic tapa in Barcelona. La Bombas are mashed potatoes wrapped around ground meat, fried, and topped with two spicy sauces. They are said to be representative of the weapons used by anarchists of the time.
The original, and arguably the best, can be found at La Cova Fumada in Barceloneta. La Bomba can be found in many places across Spain, but its history in Barcelona makes it the natural choice.
Food connects us to our homes and our history. Through foodie travel we can examine another culture’s culinary treasures and connect to them.
Foodie Travelers Love to Discover New Things
Most people would agree, new experiences are what travel is all about.
Maybe that new thing is a new ingredient or flavor. Dorian anyone?
A new dish or recipe. Have you tasted Cous Cous?
A new cooking technique. Trying a sauce that takes many days to prepare.
Possibly even dining etiquette that seems unusual to you but is the expected norm at your travel destination. No utensils.
Even having a meal at midnight might sound crazy to you, but the opportunity to join in when it’s the norm would be interesting.
Eating “The Best” During your Foodie Travels
Who doesn’t want the best?
Finding the most sought-after dishes and experiences is to many, what a vacation is all about.
But even if funds are not an issue, knowing how to find these opportunities is key.
To elaborate on the financial aspect, the “best” is not necessarily the most expensive or exclusive.
The afternoon snack that you grabbed from a local street vendor, may turn out to be more memorable than the 5 course Michelin star meal you ate the night before. Only you can decide.
Foodie Travel Obsession- Fulfilled
Shop at a local grocery or farmer’s market.
This is where you will find the people of the community shopping and eating.
All the ingredients for regional dishes will be here.
Browsing the markets will reveal a lot about what people eat and cook every day.
Engaging in conversations with vendors or other patrons will give you an excellent opportunity to ask about local favorites.
Wandering about the sights and smells of a local market is fascinating on so many levels.
Don’t forget to purchase spices and snacks to take home. Items that are available here may not be accessible to you back home. Your family and friends will appreciate the edible souvenirs you bring back from your foodie travels. The flavors you bring back will let you revisit all the delicious memories of your trip.
Take a food tour.
Food tours are one of my favorite travel activities.
Some of the best food tours you can take are the ones that not only give you a taste of the local food but will give you the history of the food itself. I recommend booking a tour as close to the beginning of your itinerary as possible. This allows you the opportunity to return is some of the tasting spots if you wish to explore more of the menu.
Think of a food tour as a list of culinary highlights of the area you are visiting.
In addition, the guides will often give you recommendations for nearby attractions and activities, as well as local restaurants if you ask.
I have taken many food tours, but one of the most memorable was not actually about food at all. The tour was called Drink and Learn. It is a tour given in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana.
With your group, you meander around the French Quarter learning about the social, political, and economic history of the city.
At strategic moments in the commentary, you will find yourself sipping on four separate drinks. I loved discovering how these cocktails came to be as a result of these dynamic influences.
Throughout the rest of my visit, I continued to reflect on these facts each time I picked up a glass.
Food tours are an outstanding way to put everything you are eating and drinking into a cultural context of your surroundings.
Sign up for a cooking class.
Sign up for a cooking class through a tour group or culinary school.
Some restaurants may even offer workshops you can take to prepare a regional dish. In Puerto Rico, I took a small class with my family on making Mofongo.
The best courses will provide information on the origin, the ingredients, and the preparation of the recipe. Of course, the best part is at the conclusion when you get to eat your creation. Now you can return home from your foodie travels to show off your newly acquired culinary skills.
The best way to kick start a foodie trip is to do some pre-travel research. Jump on a travel forum dedicated to your destination. This is where you will find other foodie travelers for sure!
Local experts participate in these forums to answer people’s questions. Someone always asks about food.
Whether it’s a question about a regional dish or finding trendy restaurants, there’s a lot of information out there.
Others who have visited the area often jump in and answer the questions as well. With that said, you will always make the best food discoveries on your own once you get there.
And while these forums can be helpful and provide a lot of good information, you’ll need to do some filtering. If you don’t see the answer to your question, feel free to jump in and ask.
During your foodie travels, there will be multiple opportunities for you to indulge in your culinary desires.
Choose what fits you best.
Whether its a food tour or a walk in the local market, but remember, enjoy the feast!
Larson, Sarah. “American Regional Cuisine: The Best Dishes from Around the Country.” Escoffier, 17 Feb. 2022, https://www.escoffier.edu/blog/world-food-drink/american-regional-cuisines/.
“Regional Food from Regional Libraries.” National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) | Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/nls/braille-audio-reading-materials/lists-nls-produced-books