For many, traveling means freedom. They get to see and explore new places and become free from their daily responsibilities, whether at school or work, for a short time. There’s also the opportunity to take lots of photos in front of beautiful scenery and brag about it on social media.
But one important aspect of traveling is food. Culinary tourism is a huge market with a value that is expected to grow from $1,116.7 billion in 2019 to $1,796.5 billion by 2027.
Although the market value is huge, not everyone pays much attention to what they eat when they travel. Most are more focused on sightseeing and bragging about their trips on social media. Some people even bring their own food from home when traveling overseas. It may be because they’re insecure about food from another place. Or maybe they’re just not comfortable trying new food.
The pandemic took the privilege of traveling from leisure away from many people. Many are excited to go back to traveling and see new sights. And when they do, travelers should go on trips not just for the experience but also for the food.
Widen Your Taste Palate
The most obvious reason to travel for food is to introduce oneself to new flavors and textures. Many dishes from other countries are rich in flavor, such as Korea’s bibimbap, India’s chole bhature, Thailand’s miang kham, and many more. While lots of foreign food may be available in one’s own country, the taste and texture may still be different. Thus, culinary travel is still a worthy trip to pursue.
Some kinds of food are only available locally. For example, while there is Kobe-inspired beef available in the U.S., actual Kobe beef is not available. One can only try eating this cuisine in Japan.
Learn Deeper About the Culture
Traveling is a great way to learn about someone else’s culture, whether it’s local or foreign. You can learn about certain food by reading travel and health and wellness articles. And experiencing the food firsthand is much more exciting and meaningful.
Food can teach travelers a lot about a culture and its history. There’s a saying that every food has a story. For example, Koreans eat seaweed soup on their birthday. In ancient times, Koreans placed seaweed soup next to a pregnant woman’s pillow to wish for a safe birth. Eventually, the dish became a symbol for birth.
Often, a culture’s values are also reflected in its food and dining practices. For instance, some countries have long lunch breaks. In Spain and Greece, a lunch break lasts for 3 hours while it’s 2 hours in France, China, and Brazil. Going on a food tour, instead of just grabbing to-go food, will help travelers learn why these breaks are long.
Connect with Locals
People can get to know each other and bond while sharing a meal. But when going on a food tour, they also get to know the locals. Travelers can go to the local food market and get to know kinds of food they’re unfamiliar with. They can ask local vendors what these kinds of food are. This curiosity will be greatly appreciated by the local vendors.
When visiting a different country, travelers usually have to learn a few words in the country’s language to communicate with locals easily. But with food, travelers can make an easier connection with the locals and make their trip more comfortable.
Get out of Your Comfort Zone
Not everyone is willing to try a new dish, especially if it has ingredients they haven’t seen or heard of before. For example, someone who’s used to only eating something grilled may not be willing to try a curry-based cuisine. One might also be turned off by the color of a dish since it’s unfamiliar.
Thus, by going on a food tour, travelers take small risks that will help them get out of their comfort zone. Getting out of one’s comfort zone through food may help travelers in the long run. For example, they’re more likely to take other small risks, even though they’re not food-related. And the compounding effects of taking risks include the following: building confidence, developing resilience, becoming more creative, and many more.
One of the best parts of traveling is trying new things. This especially counts for food. Why only travel for the eyes when you can also travel for the smell and taste? Perhaps when someone finds a dish they like, they can even try to learn how to cook it themselves at home. Thus, once leisure travel finally becomes allowed, more people should try going on a gastronomy tour rather than just a sightseeing tour.