Most people can agree that food is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It is a way for us to connect and experience our shared humanity. Food tells the story of our environment, our culture, and our heritage. The beauty of travel is that by visiting a different location we can experience what is unique to that area through its food. Whether you travel domestically or internationally, every place tells a story through its cuisine. Simply by visiting a place you will learn a lot about how its people prepare, revere, and serve their gastronomic diversity. Here a few ways that you can creatively experience a region’s food whether you are visiting Cleveland or Croatia:
The Hop is when you pick a food or beverage and visit a bunch of places that serve that item. The goal is to experience a multitude of preparations of the same item. You can do The Hop in an afternoon, in one day, or over the course of the entire trip. The hop is so-called because you “hop” from venue to venue. You can pick a food that is a specialty of that region for example, bagels in New York City. Or pick a food you like and just taste it everywhere. You’d be amazed how something as simple as toast can be prepared so differently.
Similar to The Hop tastings are sampling a certain food or beverage of a classification. Think of booking a tasting as a professionally run Hop. Tastings are easier to find when you are targeting a classification that is a specialty of the region (e.g. cheeses of France, etc.). Some tour companies offer tastings within their culinary tourism packages.
Festivals and Fairs
Find a festival that showcases a certain food and book your honeymoon around it. We’ve seen festivals focusing on everything from whiskey to tacos to chocolate. Or if you just love food in general, find a food and wine festival in the area you are visiting. Alternatively county and state fairs tend to offer some interesting and obscure culinary delights. Photo here.
One of our favorite ways to work through a culinary check list of a new region is to play bingo. Print out two blank bingo cards (link here) and list the same foods on each card in different order. Keep the list with you when you go out to eat and whenever you try something off the list, mark it off on the card. First person to win bingo, gets a prize or bragging rights. You choose.
Not sure what to eat in that area? Check out our Pinterest page for your travel location to see what foods other travelers have listed as the best of that area. Alternatively, you can enter “foods of ____” or “what to eat in _____” into your search engine. For a less fun version of the same experience, keep a list of foods to try and check off each item when you try it.
Choose A Destination Known For Its Food
By picking a honeymoon destination known for its food or a certain type of food you don’t have to do much more work than go there and eat. For example, Hawaii is known for its exquisite beaches but it also has amazing food. That’s probably why its such a popular vacation destination: two for one special!
Who wants to go to school on vacation? Well if you are a foodie you might! You can take cooking classes in most metropolitan areas around the world. Even if you can’t find formal classes, the experiences section on AirBnB often lists individuals that open their homes to teach visitors how to make authentic food with local ingredients. No better place to learn how to make pasta than the place where pasta was born, right?
Bring Your Vacation Home
If there is something that you ate and loved on vacation and its possible (and legal) bring it back with you! Especially when traveling overseas, local ingredients in foreign countries are what we call gourmet ingredients in the United States. So if there is a spice or snack that you loved, bring it back! Just be mindful of customs regulations and baggage restrictions to avoid having your “gourmet” treats confiscated at the border.
The Netflix series Chef’s Table has brought a world of culinary excellence to our favorite devices. So why not experience some of the world’s best chefs on your own. Awards and ratings such as the Michelin guide, and the James Beard Award provide lists of some of the best chefs and restaurants in the world. While many of these restaurants have strict reservation policies, many you can just walk into. If planning ahead isn’t your thing, see if you can just walk in and grab a seat at the bar. Often times the bars have cheaper (or similar) menus, prepared by the same chef, and the wait time for a seat is far less than getting a table for dinner.
There is no better way to experience the culture of an area than by tasting its street food. Street food is not always what it sounds like – buying food from street vendors. It is often the food that is the fuel of the locals – quick eats that are ubiquitous at food stalls, markets, happy hours, and food trucks. Every culture has its street food. Taco trucks in Los Angeles. Beef patties in Jamaica. Churros in Mexico. With many street foods you will find a range of the “quick and easy” sold by street vendors and food stalls and their gourmet counterparts sold in high end restaurants. No matter what your tastes are, street food is a must if you want to experience life as a local in your destination of choice.
Farmer’s markets and street markets are one of the most immersive aspects of travel. In one location, you can experience the local and seasonal produce, food, and wares of a culture. Many street markets cater to both locals and visitors so you can get an awesome experience of what living, shopping, and eating like a local can be. Plus, the food at markets is often amazing and filled with both street food and high-end delights.