Culinary tourism has become an important part of the tourism experience for people looking to dive head-first into new cultural experiences.
The increase in demand is due to food-obsessed millennials and Gen Zers, an increase in the number of travellers, the influence of social media, increased disposable income, and food festivals.
If the next destination on your bucket list is purely food-motivated, we have the ultimate list for you. Filled with exciting cultural and culinary experiences, you’ll want to add every item to your itinerary.
7 tips for eating your way through a new country:
While you may never want to cook at home, you should reconsider this choice while on holiday. Taking a holiday cooking class expands your food horizons by learning new techniques and tasting new flavours, spices and ingredients.
Those on the culinary scene, are offering locals the opportunity to experience indigenous cuisine in a manner that is more immersive than eating at a popular restaurant in the area. Whether it’s chefs, home cooks or restaurant owners, the experts in local cooking are inviting tourists into their space to learn, taste and enjoy. From pasta classes in Italy to curry in India, you’ll have a little piece of the country to take back home with you.
The freshest local produce can be found at markets boasting bags of spices, fresh local produce and delicious tasters to try as you peruse at your leisure. While mingling with others browsing and chatting to the stallholders, you’ll find some real gems such as fruit unique to the area, freshly made bread of all kinds and a variety of traditional ingredients with that signature stamp of wholesomeness only artisanal foods possess.
Markets, food trucks and street vendors are the ultimate foodie haven. With so much variety jam-packed into one place, you’ll be able to get a real taste of the region you’re visiting.
This is also where local cuisine gets transformed with fusion styles of cooking, creating entirely new flavour profiles and cultural cuisine is converted into finger food. As a tourist, you’ll have access to local favourites and be encouraged to try something new at every stall you visit. Plus everything is prepared in front of you, without all the frills and fuss seen at restaurants, so you’ll get to see the vendors finesse their way to serving up a steaming hot plate of deliciousness.
If you want to taste an array of foods in one sitting, pick a restaurant that offers seasonal tasting menus. The taster meals consist of smaller potions perfect for trying out a large variety of food styles.
The reason why “seasonal” is key in this situation is because it means the ingredients used will probably be fresh and locally sourced, therefore ensuring what you eat is an authentic representation of the area you’re in and what is commonly consumed at that time of year. While it may be tempting to visit an Italian restaurant (your favourite) in the heart of New Orleans for instance, it is always wiser to go to a restaurant that is primarily focused on serving local cuisine.
Tastings and tours
Then, of course, there are beverage tastings. WIne, beer, gin, tea, coffee and more. Different regions have their own drinks for which they are famous. For example, you can visit vineyards, distilleries, roasteries and other types of places where the beginning stages of beverage manufacturing take place on tour, to see how they are made from start to finish. Sometimes, they have beverage pairings too where food is paired with a drink.
Knowing how food gets to your table, from sowing the seeds to harvesting fruit, grains and vegetables, is a crucial part of most countries’ economies and the livelihoods of locals.
Food production is more closely linked to rural areas in general, as a result, engaging in agritourism is an amazing way to see the country you’re visiting from a different perspective. Each country has something they’re famous for, like the Winelands in the South of France and Western Cape or the rice plantations in Bali. And, venturing through the countryside areas can also be quiet, scenic and calming, ideal for long drives.
Cultural festivals and holidays
One of the most essential aspects of religious events is food. From Diwali in India to Thanksgiving in the US, if you want to indulge in local cuisine then a festival, cultural celebration or holiday provides an ideal opportunity to do so.
Many cultures celebrate certain events with food made specifically for that special day. For example, in England, mince pies are eaten around Christmas time and, in Russia over New Year, Russians eat the classic dish of shuba salad featuring beautiful layers of pickled herring and root vegetables.
Food plays a vital role in religious culture in terms of demonstrating respect among communities, and many of the religions follow religious rules, therefore food is prepared and consumed in a variety of ways. From who is served first to whether it is boiled, fried or eaten raw with your bare hands or traditional utensils, it all depends on the culture you are being immersed in.