And while it’s a concept that’s been around for a while, it has never been more popular than it is today – a self-evident fact when you get onto Instagram and can’t go two seconds without seeing what someone you know, someone you kind of know, or someone you wish you knew, is eating on vacation.
Food and travel blogger Roxanne Bamboat (popularly known as The Tiny Taster), weighs in: “I personally travel for a lot of reasons, and food is a BIG part of it. But even while a lot of people don’t travel just for food, it ends up being a crucial part of their overall experience. And that’s why I think culinary tourism has always been big – food is such an essential part of the travel experience. Over the years, with people becoming more aware of different cuisines—and more inclined to upload images of their meals—this sort of tourism has flourished”.
For travel and food writer Prachi Joshi, food is the most intimate way of experiencing a destination. “You can connect with people better through food; understanding where they buy their food, how they cook, what they eat – it’s a universal language,” she says.
So what are the hot culinary destinations? Here’s the beauty of it – you could go to any country in the world and find something unique and delicious, so it’s all about what you’re looking to get out of an experience.
For Bamboat, personal favourites have been Portugal and South Africa. “I spent almost a month touring Portugal, eating in various parts, and trying to understand it better. It’s such simple food but absolutely delicious and by far some of the best seafood I have eaten. With South Africa just the quality of meat… the beef you get there is FAR superior to what I’ve eaten in countries in Europe or even Australia. There is also access to game meat, and to other African cuisines like Ethiopian, which is my favourite,” she shares.
Joshi shares her favourite: “In India, the foods of coastal Maharashtra and Karnataka. Abroad, Sicilian street food in Palermo, which is very different from what we know as Italian food,” she says.
A big part of culinary tourism is authenticity. There’s little that can beat the experience of eating pizza Margherita in Naples, smoky ribs fresh off the grill in Texas, a pain au chocolat in Paris, lobsters in Maine, or taking a tapas crawl in Madrid. What’s more, there’s the thrill of finding new experiences, adventurous food – fried crickets in Thailand, anyone?—and that indescribable thrill that comes with being in a strange new place that cannot be replicated at a restaurant at home.
It’s never been easier to hunt down these experiences, with numerous websites, blogs, and apps telling you how to do just that. For all these reasons, we think culinary tourism is here to stay. In fact, Joshi opines, “It’s going to get bigger as people get more adventurous about what they eat, and as destinations highlight their cuisines, especially street food and home-style cooking”.
Whether it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant in London, floating markets in Thailand, or the streets of Indore for chaat, your next culinary adventure is waiting – all you have to do is pick a place and start eating.