An explosion in the mouth, sounds dangerous? But people around the world are trying hard to get this experience at least once. The right kind of texture, aroma, and flavor of food can be the difference between an ordinary and fabulous meal.
Food is not just something we consume to survive. Now, it means a way to express your artistic nature, a presentation of your cultural roots, and above all, it shows who you are and what motivates you.
It is impossible to know a locality’s culture without tasting its food. It’s no accident that “Food Tourism” is becoming so popular.
Culinary tourism is a relatively new term and wasn’t a legitimate term until recently. We have always tasted different food associated with a travel destination.
But, in the past, we were reserved about that. During travels, most of the time was spent in search of food that was known to us.
But the scenario has changed. Now, people actively participate in a food journey in search of that “explosion in the mouth,” so to speak. So, going to a place to experience their culinary richness is becoming trendier.
Food And Me
Growing up and being part of a military family, I traveled a lot. I was introduced to many foods that most would cringe at trying. My grandfather’s favorite was smoked eel, and my mother loves durian fruit.
One of my favorites was stuffed lamb hearts in red wine sauce. I had shark fin soup before it was banned and horse steak. But due to my love of horses, wouldn’t touch it now.
Without travel, I would have only experienced foods from my home. Spotted dick, toad in the hole, blood pudding, bubble and squeak to name a few. While these foods might be foreign to most, each country has its blends of ingredients.
Most people are open to different cuisines and go to great lengths to satisfy their taste buds. Just think, if I were reluctant to try the chocolate tequila, I would still be ignorant about what a fantastic thing a pairing of two different things can do.
The fun part of a culinary journey is, that I don’t need to travel to another part of the world to have the experience. I live in a world where it’s trendy to be called a “foodie,” although I don’t consider myself to be one. While some still travel for the sites, others map itineraries for the food experience.
Food And The Younger Generation
I was amazed to find that there are now many culinary apps. Everybody knows the best way to get the real taste of food is the local way.
And, many apps work like Airbnb, where users have tasted the local item at a particular place and reviewed the site for future travelers.
Living in another country is by far the best way to discover the food culture. Growing up an army brat, I was fortunate to travel around the world.
Living as a local allowed me to immerse myself in the culture, food, deep traditions, and broadened my mind about a different way of living. I welcomed the idea of trying different foods, although the thought of sampling unusual and unknown foods is not always embraced by most.
Food tourism is more of a millennial trend. The younger generation is more daring and eager to taste unusual and unfamiliar. They are more into experiencing other cultures than usual sightseeing.
I may not be from this generation, but as a long-time traveler, I continue to seek out new experiences to have my taste bud satisfied.
The lure of treating myself to delicious aromas, and the pleasure of knowing the unknown has always tempted me.
Food Experiences Around The World
With the rise of culinary delights, comes a whole new way to vacation as travelers are choosing locations to experience unknown food around the world.
World food markets are becoming more popular as food and travel go hand in hand. Here are some of the culinary experiences I thought you should at least get once in your lifetime.
Mazatlan, Mexico-Tres Amigos Molcajete
I was startled at first to see a bowl made of lava arriving at my table. I was visiting Mazatlan city when some fellow Canadians told me about the Panchos on the waterfront.
With luck and patience, I was able to get a table on the patio. It was a great place to watch the locals peddle their wares, and enjoy the brave people having fun parasailing.
Later, I was one of those brave souls who took to the air with a parachute.
But the real adventure began when I got the sizzling bowl of Tres Amigos Molcajete. Three different items, combined to make a food grenade that exploded on my taste buds.
Rich flavor, water-inducing spices, and the awestruck view of the Pacific Ocean made me forget everything. The Tres Amigos Molcajete was a culinary journey like none other.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Chocolate Tequila
I am not a drinker, so when I went to experience the Tequila tasting in Puerto Vallarta during my Mexican Riviera cruise, I was hesitant. In fact, the first time I tasted tequila, I was thankful there was a nearby bucket to spit the horrid sampling from my mouth.
Afterward, I couldn’t understand the fascination was such a vial-tasting concoction. That changed when I discovered chocolate tequila. It’s like a match made in heaven.
The town of Puerto Vallarta itself is a perfect place to learn about Mexico and its tradition of chocolate making. If you love chocolate, you must visit this resort town as an introduction to food tourism.
During my afternoon visit to ChocoMuseo, I learned how to turn a cocoa bean into a delicious chocolate bar in their bean-to-bar workshop.
London, England – Afternoon Tea
I know there are so many great things to do in London. Visiting the London Eye, taking a tour of Baker Street, the Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, and Museums can take a considerable amount of time.
Still, there are no excuses to experience Afternoon tea in England. It is a ritual that you have to follow if you want to have the real London experience.
Known as “cream teas,” it’s not just a cup of tea, but rather a whole meal. The finger sandwich, fluffy scone, delicious pastries, and cakes are going to change your perspective on tea.
The food, the presentation, and the dress code of this century-old culture of England will undoubtedly make you nostalgic and give you the real pleasure of knowing the cultural sense of true Prime Londoners.
While scones are available around the world, what makes the British scone heavenly, is the Devonshire clotted cream. Although cream that’s “clotted” might sound off-putting, combined with strawberry jam, it’s a match made in heaven.
The tea selection includes a large variety of loose-leaf blends from around the world, served in the finest of bone china teacups fit for a queen. While a high tea ritual might seem a bit stuffy to some, it’s still an event everyone must experience at least once.
Due to its popularity, visitors don’t need to go to London to enjoy this ritual. Many places around the world like the Empress Hotel on Vancouver Island, Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong, Burj Al Arab in Dubai, and Singapore’s Raffles Hotel serve afternoon tea.
I know you can get Poutine around the corner now. Food trucks and restaurants all around the United States are making sure of that. But, to get the real taste of Poutine, you must visit Montreal.
Because this French-Canadian delicacy originated there and there is no better place to taste the Poutine than at the source. Combine crispy hot seasoned French fries with melted cheese curds and flavorful gravy for a knockout creation.
In Montreal, you cannot take two steps without finding a place where Poutine is not on the menu. There are several types to engage your taste bud.
You can eat in Pierrette Patates, where the original custom is maintained and served. Or if you want the modern version, you can try the Poutine in Blackstrap BBQ. I even found a vegetarian version served at Lola Rosa.
There are countless top restaurants there, where you can eat without any hesitation. Whichever place you choose, you definitely are amazed by the way people around you are talking or treating you. It’s like having a big family gathering. Well, it is Canada, so that’s expected!
Germany, German Currywurst
Growing up, I lived in German twice, and although that was many moons ago, I still remember the German Currywurst.
Germans are known for making the best sausages, and that alone is a culinary journey in itself. However, combining a perfectly seasoned Bratwurst sausage with a flavorful curry/ketchup sauce is to die for.
Arguably, Currywurst is widely considered to be Germany’s best street food. Years after I left Germany, I tried to find that fantastic sauce without success, until recently.
However, it’s not quite the same experience as being in Berlin and experiencing the atmosphere of the culture, smells, and hearing the native tongue.
Hawaii, Spam Musubi
Growing up, I remember Spam being a disgusting processed food that came in a can. It wasn’t something I wanted or ate. Yet, in Hawaii, it’s a delicacy, and the locals found many ways to prepare it, to make it enticing. During World War II, Spam became popular due to its long shelf life.
Spam Musubi is created from a grilled piece of Spam, flavored with teriyaki. It’s placed on a block of rice and wrapped in Nori (seaweed). Served with soya sauce or Japanese mayonnaise, Spam Musubi is a go-to snack for the Hawaiian locals.
Ceviche is a simple, refreshing, and flavorful food. The classic Peruvian ceviche recipe uses lime juice and cilantro with raw sole fish. It’s imperative the fish is fresh, or food poisoning may result. Once made, it should be consumed immediately to prevent spoilage.
In Peru, this food is an important part of its heritage. Other variations have developed using shark, shrimp, tilapia, and squid.
I remember my first Turkish meze experience living on the island of Cyprus. The meze is not simply a meal but a festival of flavors that just go on forever. Being in the Mediterranean, the ingredients are fresh, and dishes plentiful. Don’t expect a quick bite to eat because mezes can last for hours.
The idea is to savor each dish and only sample, not consume. First, there are the staples; fried halloumi cheese, Mediterranean salad, grilled eggplant, giant olives, and lots of fresh bread.
Then the meat or seafood arrives one by one. These include kebabs, roasted lamb, grilled snails, and succulent chicken. When you think you’ve had your fill, another dish arrives.
Unlike other global dishes, Turkish food tends not to be spicy but provides plenty of flavor from the blend of ingredients and spices.
How To Get The Best Of Food Travel
If you are planning to join the trend and travel for the sake of eating, here are some tips for you. Even a seasoned traveler can miss something. I always found it is best to trust the locals. If locals are gathering in a place, then maybe it’s because they serve the best authentic food.
I generally look for full parking lots at restaurants and people waiting to eat. Line-ups almost always translate to the best gourmet food. I am always open to advice and get as much as I can from the local people.
But, again, pay attention to seasoned travelers and local people’s advice about food. I always do that, and I can happily brag about my food journeys.
Open your senses and try to capture everything you can. Because in the end, these are the memories and experiences that you are going to cherish.
Happy travels ~ Karen