So much of understanding a new culture is learned through our taste buds and frankly, trying new food is one of the true pleasures of traveling. What makes the culinary exploration in a new destination so much fun? Perhaps it’s the fresh local ingredients like produce or seafood, or the local spices, or maybe it is learning a new way to prepare something familiar.
It is no wonder that culinary tours are so popular. Whether you are a self-proclaimed foodie or not, traveling by way of food is one cool way to immerse yourself into a new culture.
The World Food Travel Association recognizes foodie travelers in three categories: deliberate, opportunistic and accidental. Their research points to nearly 39-million leisure travelers who fall into the “deliberate” category which means they seek out food-related excursions and adventures.
There’s no shortage of food travel experiences available. From culinary cruises, to destination cooking classes and local market tours, there is a level of foodie adventure that suits every kind of traveler. At the bear minimum, most travelers enjoy trying local fare wherever they’re visiting versus repetitive room service at their hotel.
Whether you select food at local Moroccan markets with a chef that you will use in a cooking class, or take a pastry class in Paris — discovering culture through your palate–and learning something new along the way allows you to take memories and authentic culinary experiences home with you.
One of the most poplar type of culinary travel experiences is culinary tours and they come as varied as the ingredients in Irish stew. Tours can be large or small groups and operate by touring through a country with a focus on food preparation, local ingredients and culturally significant dishes.
Culinary tour designer Peggy Markel of Peggy Markel’s Culinary Adventures says culinary tours provide a multi-dimensional experience – combining food, travel and culture.
” Food takes you to the heart and soul of a culture where there are no boundaries,” said Markel. “One hand extends to the other in curiosity and generosity. There is no better way to understand the land, history or identity of a people than to share the taste and joy of a traditional local dish. It’s full of story and memory passed down from generations. ”
And Markel should know, as she has led customized group culinary tours in places like India, Tuscany and Grenada for more than 17 years. There is an understanding about the history of a culture that comes through when you are going to the source of the ingredients.
There are culinary travel arrangements to fit every kinds of travel style. Enjoy hunting things on your own? Try booking a cooking class at a culinary school where you are visiting.
Enjoy cruising? Check out the many culinary cruises that are available like Cruising with the Chefs on board Oceania Cruises.
Culinary travel is also well-suited for groups looking for a unique way to experience a culture. Jon Hersh of World of Travel, a group tour booking company in Columbus, Ohio, says culinary travel for groups is tremendously popular.
“With people’s emphasis on healthy, organic, and ethnic foods, culinary travel is becoming more and more popular every year,” said Hersh. ” We booked a group to take a cooking class in Rome; it was bellissimo! They learned how to make fettuccine carbonara, and they learned which wine paired best with the pasta and the sauce. It was a wonderful and educational experience, and our clients brought back their new found skills to use in their own kitchens.”