Globe trekkers have endless reasons for collecting passport stamps. Perhaps they are motivated by the world’s diverse natural landscapes or the array of stunning architecture. Some travel to escape the daily grind, experience a different climate, or even find love. But among all travelers, there is one overwhelming unifier: Food
Any well seasoned traveler will tell you that a city’s food is central to its culture. The colors and flavors of a dish can invite you into the essence of a place. From the hands that press the olive oil to the spices placed on the table, it is all connected. And now more than ever, travelers are eager to be part of it.
An appreciation of culinary culture has transformed the way that we travel, and food might just be at the center of your next trip.
Tasting Travel: The Rise Of Food Tourism
The phrase “food tourism” came to be when the World Food Travel Association coined the term. The WFTA, a non-profit dedicated to the link between cuisine and tourism, defines the term as:
“The pursuit and enjoyment of unique and memorable food and drink experiences, both near and far.”
And foodies everywhere are certainly creating these culinary memories.
While traveling for food is certainly not a new phenomenon, it seems to be growing in popularity. In fact, according to a 2016 World Food Travel Association Study, 59% of travelers say that culinary experiences are more important today than they were five years ago. And this trend doesn’t just involve eating at interesting restaurants.
Food tourism is much more accessible than ever before, as culinary adventurers strive to push their taste buds through food tours, cooking classes, festivals, and other tasting experiences. Perhaps due to millennial’s’ growing interest in both food and travel, globetrotters are seeking both cheap eats and indulgences.
Travel: Social Media’s Growing Role In Food Tourism
Food travel is no longer just about the taste. It’s about the aesthetic, atmosphere, and authenticity. As with many millennial trends, these young trekkers are seeking the most genuine experiences possible. In fact, about 98% of millennials want to experience local cuisine while they travel, and of course, they are posting photos on social media.
“Culinary tourists share millions of F&B (Food and Beverage) themed photos daily across social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and especially Flickr,” Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance and Skift wrote in “The Rise of Food Tourism” report. “This increases travel consumers awareness of different cuisines and cultures and it fuels their desire to experience them.”
From New York City food festivals to the streets of Marrakesh, travelers are snapping images of their food and posting it to social media. This blend of taste and aesthetic creates an entirely new twist to foodie culture. We smell, taste, and experience — then we share so that others are tempted to do the same.
“Many of the posts on Instagram tagged #travel feature shots of local foods and beverages” Sarah McGuire writes in Business. “Tourism businesses have noticed this, which is why you will notice the prominence of content featuring food on their social media pages, Instagram being a leading tool.”
Food Travel: There’s An App For That
In addition to social marketing and sharing, mobile apps have become a key player in the rise of culinary tourism. With these tools at their fingertips, travelers can swipe through an array of nearby restaurants and food experiences. Here they 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. 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.
Whether searching for the perfect meal or stumbling upon a gem by happenstance, millennials are open to try even the most unfamiliar dishes. These trends have transformed food tourism into a global industry, with nearly every popular destination boasting a beautiful and tempting dish.
Tastebuds tingling at the thought of culinary adventures? To help you plan your gastronomic trek around the world, we have curated a selection of some of the most mouth-watering and famous international dishes. Frankfurt,
1) Germany — Sauerbraten :
This classic German dish literally translates to “sour roast” but isn’t actually sour at all. Rather, it is one of Germany’s most popular national meat dishes. To make this dish, chefs marinate beef, pork, and mutton for several days. This slow process gives you a tender and juicy piece of meat with every forkful.
Red cabbage (Rotkohl), potato dumplings (Knödel or Kartoffelklöße), and egg noodles (Spätzle) are typically served alongside the Sauerbraten. While you can find this dish in nearly all German cities, every region will have it’s own delicious variation.
2) Valencia, Spain — Paella
Full of vibrant flamenco and breathtakingly historic cities, Spain puts as much cultural pride into its food as the rest of its traditions. Surrounded by coastline, the Spanish have certainly mastered seafood dishes. And few platos are quite as popular as paella.
This famous rice and seafood dish originated in Valencia, but other Spanish cities, like Barcelona, have their own variation of the dish. It is most commonly served with shrimp, but can also contain chicken, pork, squid, peppers, beans, peas, artichokes, and other seafood. Add some bread and olive oil on the side for the true Spanish experience.
3) Montreal, Canada — Poutine
This trendy dish has popped up in food trucks and restaurants all over the United States, but Poutine is the pride of French-Canadians. This tasty combination of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy is deliciously greasy, especially if served in just the right way.
Picture this: A bed of crispy, hot fries tossed and seasoned to perfection, a layer of cheese slightly melted from the fries, and a flavorful gravy adorning it all. Tempted yet? Bon appetite!
4) Tel Aviv, Israel — Shakshuka
Breakfast is notoriously the most important meal of the day, and Israelis serve it up right. Shakshuka is one of the most popular (and most delicious) breakfast dishes that you can find in Israel. This tasty meal involves several sunny side up eggs cooked in a tomato and pepper paste. It is also seasoned with onions, herbs, and traditional spices.
Shakshuka is traditionally served in a hot cast iron pan with a side of pita for dipping and eating. When you enter a restaurant in Israel, chances are you’ll see some type of Shakshuka on the menu. Why not eat it for every meal?
5) Bangkok, Thailand — Mango Sticky Rice
Roaming the streets of Bangkok, you are sure to find this treat at bustling roadside stalls. Called Khao Niaow Ma Muang, this rice dish offers the perfect combination of sweet and salty flavors. This heavenly dessert is made with sticky glutinous rice, coconut milk, and of course, fresh mangoes.
Whether you enjoy this dish for dessert or as a snack, you are sure to be satisfied by the indulgent texture of the rice and juiciness of the mango.
Whether you encounter these dishes in a hidden restaurant or a crowded food festival, you are sure to leave your destination with a new appreciation for the culture. Cities all over the world take pride in the creation of their most famous dishes. From the spices to the cookware, the entire preparation process works together to tell a story.
How To Fully Experience Food Travel
Convinced to put food at the center of your next journey? You’re joining the ranks of trekkers eager to try the most interesting and decadent food from around the world. The key is to take risks and learn how to experience local food in a memorable way.
“The reality is that it’s on us as travelers to explore the diversity each country has to offer,” Aziz Abu Sarah writes in National Geographic. “Even the most visited destinations can offer extraordinary experiences when you go beyond the usual tourism sites, museums, and monuments.”
The following are some tips to dig deep into a city’s food culture and to get the most out of every dish you try.
- Follow the locals. Wander away from the touristy areas and find the restaurants where locals eat. If a spot is flooded with locals enjoying each other’s company, it’s likely that this restaurant offers authentic cuisine.
- Practice food customs. Respect is key when visiting a new place. Whenever you travel somewhere new, take the time to learn about local meal etiquette. This will make you a more respectful guest and a less invasive tourist.
- Ask for advice. Locals and well-seasoned travelers are the best sources of advice when it comes to finding exceptional food. Ask about the best places to eat and the best dishes to try — your tastebud guide will likely not disappoint.
- Attend festivals and events. Food festivals offer an exciting array of local cuisine, and most of the time, you’ll be surrounded by cultural music and crafts as well. These types of events are great to wander with friends or simply get lost in the crowd.
- Taste mindfully.Once you actually bite into a new dish, slow down and engage all of your senses. Take the time to enjoy the flavors, as it might be a completely new tasting experience. This moment might be among the most memorable of your trip.
- Learn what you like. Even the most adventurous foodies don’t like every single food they try. Remember that just because something is popular does not mean that you will like it. Being honest and critical is how you develop a palette.
By staying open to new experiences and immersing yourself in every dish you try will help you create a nourishing trip — both for your stomach and soul. And you might just want to take these flavors home with you.
“Thumbing through a foreign cookbook is great and all, but actually breathing in the aroma of freshly-made at a bustling Vietnamese market will spike your cooking inspiration twofold,” Emily Arno writes in Relish. “So don’t be shy — after trying something new and amazing, ask for the recipe and make it at home. Since you’ve tried the real thing, you’ll know how your variation stacks up and will be able to improve on it each time.”
Over time, your knowledge of international flavors will be as precious as your collection of travel photos. And as the beauty of food allows, you can share these experiences with others.