Food tourism (or “culinary tourism”) is simply a matter of traveling beyond your immediate neighborhood to find great food. Of course, the further you are willing to travel, the broader your range of culinary experiences will be. For those unable to travel, Healthy Gourmet brings a world of global flavors to your table and can satisfy your sense of adventure and curiosity as well as your taste buds. But for those who decide to wander further afield, let us share some insights into food tourism as well as some tips to help you make the most of your culinary adventures.
Food Tourism becomes mainstream
In 2001 the World Food Travel Association defined food tourism as “The pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences both far and near” (Erik Wolf, Executive Director of Culinary Tourism). However, food experiences were not yet monetized as a tourism experience in creative ways and eat and drinking were not considered entertainment in the way they are today.
Ten years later food tourism began to attract mainstream interest with the help and exposure of social media and television. A wide range of experiences came into focus like cooking classes, producer visits, street food, gastro pubs, wine tasting, distilleries, food tours, food markets and themed restaurants.
In the last few years, food and drink have become a motivation for traveling and a reason for choosing a particular destination. In fact, we spend more time and money on unique food and beverage experiences than ever before. To support this, there is a recognized global increase in the number of food tour companies, food and beverage focused events, and food and beverage focused marketing efforts worldwide. In short, food tourism is finally mainstream.
Where should you visit?
You can turn any destination into a culinary journey of discovery. Within every region of every country lies a unique cuisine; an approach to cooking or preparing a particular dish that you may not have tried. Sometimes it doesn’t involve going further than a few miles down the road. Other times it can take you down the road less traveled.
From street food to cooking classes with locals, coffee and spirits tastings, Brazil’s developing food tourism industry will teach you about Brazil’s food culture, while you taking in the scenery, and meet interesting people along the way.
A country with rich natural and cultural resources, Indonesia benefits from a focus on food tourism to strengthen its international visitor appeal. There are more than 485 ethnic groups in Indonesia, each having its own local food
Malaysian cuisine is mixed race, comprising Malays, Chinese, Indian and other ethnic groups. Previously, in the early 1970s these ethnic groups added to the potpourri of local food and beverages and created a rich Malaysian culinary heritage.
Mexico’s regional cuisine is often overlooked but filled with a rich history of food and culinary heritage. Mexican cuisine expresses a cultural system that reflects religion, rituals, and traditions of long ago.
Morocco is a country with rich and inviting cuisine, tinged with the best of the Middle East. Consequently, spices are given pride of place: Coriander, saffron and cumin elevate many recipes with a hint of spiciness in the best taste. For instance, couscous, tagine and pastilla made with chicken or seafood are the most famous Moroccan dishes. Food tourism in Morocco is an enticing melange of street food, cooking classes and food tours that set a high standard for the most sophisticated foodie.
Peru has become an epicenter of gastronomic travel. The variety of flavors, many unique among South American countries, offer a taste experience that draws foodies from all over the world. In addition, Peru’s vibrant culture, incredible landscapes, and friendly people make it a world-class gastro-tourism destination. In fact, Peru is seen by many insiders, foodies, and tourists as the best culinary destination in the world.
Culinary tourism in general is on the rise, with travelers wanting to discover and taste new and authentic dishes while enjoying local hospitality. These have all become part of the authentic travel experience in South Africa. The food is vibrant and diverse, making food experiences unique. Moreover, the wine scene has gained international recognition, making Africa a foodie hot spot for travelers.
Why does food tourism matter?
Food tourism is not just about satisfying your curiosity and your hunger. It is about improving the lives of others, particularly those whose country you are visiting. Your tourism helps grow community pride in local culinary traditions while contributing to the local economy. Furthermore it can foster renewed interest in movements that attract sophisticated tourists and are good for the environment from organic farming to sustainable dining. Whether you are a deliberate, opportunistic or accidental food tourist feel good about the fact that you’re making lives better for others while satisfying your cravings.
On top of the philanthropic aspect, food tourism is an all round educational experience that teaches us about other countries and nations. Notably, regional cuisine gives its local community a unique identity and reveals history and cultural tradition that portray stories of survival at one end of the spectrum to high society at the other. While food can be symbolic of status it can also be symptomatic of poverty. Similarly, it can be associated with Religious fasting or decadent feasting. In conclusion, whichever way you look at it, food tourism is a gateway to the rest of the world.
There’s An App For That!
In addition to social marketing and sharing, mobile apps have become a key player in the rise of food tourism. With these tools at their fingertips, travelers can swipe through an array of nearby restaurants and food experiences. Here you can check out photos and read reviews from past customers.
A niche category of apps pioneered by Yelp and TripAdvisor, these are some of the most popular food tourism apps:
Table8: Available in various cities around the United States, this app allows travelers to search and make reservations at some of the more popular restaurants
Feastly: Travelers looking for top of the line culinary experiences can use Feastly to attend meals prepared by local chefs.
VizEat: This app gives tourists the true local experience. For example, travelers can use the app to connect with locals and attend dinner parties, tours, and cooking classes.
Foodspotting: Craving a specific dish? Food-spotting will help you find it. Their interactive interface allows you to browse maps and images of food in global destinations.
Roaming Hunger: This is the app for food on wheels. Users can track mobile vendors and learn more about their favorite food trucks.
Making the most of your trip
Finally, five tips from seasoned food tourist travelers:
- Start with the basics – do some easy research before you leave and be able to make informed choices when you get there
- Learn about dining etiquette and social norms – ask questions when eating out and enjoy learning from the answers
- Try out the fresh food markets – don’t miss out on these and include breakfast markets at dawn
- Food safety – choose stalls where the cooking is visible and the money is handled with a different pair of hands
- Break the rules – push the boundaries a little and try new foods and weird combinations!