You Will Take A Tasty Path When You Travel For Food
People travel to see new places and experience different cultures. Some may let food choices limit their destination choices. Some may limit where they eat when abroad. Large chain hotels will often offer a variety of North American dishes if you really don’t want to try new food. But we have found that you may find a a tasty path when you travel for food!
We are still very much spice wimps. Salt and pepper are spices for us. But as we travel more and more, our palettes broadened. Maybe our waistbands too! We go in search of local foods and food experiences. Cooking classes offer a good way to learn about local foods. Sometimes food tours will give you a peek into local cultures too. Wine tastings introduce new wines and often demonstrate the importance of food pairings. Trying local specialities has provided us with new favourite foods. Food has become a big part of our travel experiences!
Learn To Cook Something New When You Travel
Cooking classes and demonstrations are great ways to travel for food. Along our travels, we have picked up great cooking tips, learned new recipes and have been entertained.
We travelled down the Adriatic coast of Italy. We ate some of the best food as we travelled. When we reached the far south in Puglia, we planned a day to take a cooking class. Our day started with a visit to the local market. This gave us a good view of the local products available. It was fun to watch our chef for the day as he did his daily shopping.
The highlight of this cooking class was learning to make pasta. We made two different kinds of “southern” pasta. In the north of Italy they use eggs but not in the south. Pasta was so much easier to make than you might think. We made complete dishes for both lunch and dinner. Between the meals we left for our afternoon nap! We got a great introduction to the food of southern Italy in Puglia, enjoyed our hosts passion for local wines and learned much about the traditions in this region.
One pasta cooking lesson is never enough. Once you have had fresh pasta, you may never want it from a box again. Cooking demonstrations are regular entertainment when we cruise. The cruise ship has an Italian speciality restaurant and Italian food is almost always available in all venues. We always look forward to the Italian cooking demonstration. They make pasta making seem so easy. And so fun!
The recipes are provided and you can try them yourself. Whether it is fresh pasta, ceviche or delicious cakes, you will get both learning and entertainment at a cooking demonstration on a cruise ship.
Cooking classes can be fun for all ages. When our son visited SE Asia, he took a Thai cooking class. It was a great way for him to meet other people. From the pictures he sent back, it certainly looked like they had fun. And they made a delicious looking feast!
If you want to travel for food, try a cooking class or attend a food demonstration!
Take a Tour To See How Local Products Are Made
Cooking classes have taught us a lot about food and food preparation. You may learn even more if you take a tour to learn about the production process for local foods. When we visited Bologna in Italy, the top thing on our list was to do a food tour. We booked a day trip to learn about the processes to create 3 local specialties – parmigiano-reggiano cheese, prosciutto ham and balsamic vinegar. I will warn you though. Once you have had the real thing, certified by local authorities, you will forever become a food snob!
Our first stop was a factory where parmigiano-reggiano cheese was made. We saw the cheese in the various stages of production. The cheese balls started like swaddled babies and moved through various stages of maturation.
The prosciutto ham factory provided an insight into the aging process. The factory was designed to mimic historical processes for creating the perfect ham. The ham moved through rooms kept at environmental conditions that mimicked the seasons. It was a reminder that ham had historically been in different stages throughout a year of processing.
The final processing facility we visited was for balsamic vinegar. If you have never tried aged balsamic vinegar, this would be an eye opening process. Long aged balsamic vinegar is sweet and tasty. It is even served on ice cream. We will never use regular table balsamic vinegar again. One small drop of real old balsamic vinegar is now my condiment of choice.
Our food tour in Bologna was probably one of the best day tours we have even done. It was fascinating to learn how authentic products were made. If you travel for food, you will learn about the big difference in food quality when you buy truly certified products. It has certainly sent us on interesting shopping explorations when we returned home!
Combine A Food Tour With A Look At Local Culture
Sometimes we have planned a local excursion that combines both food and local culture. We visited Spain several times but always missed seeing a flamenco dance show. On our last trip, we stayed Seville and one of the highlights of our visit was a night tour. Our walking tour took us to several different bars to sample tapas and local drinks. And we got to see a great flamenco dance show.
Our guide for the night took every opportunity to give us a little more education about the traditions of Andalusian Spain on our tour. We learned about the food and drink. There was a stop to see a flamenco guitar store and another to learn about traditional flamenco dresses. We felt ready when the flamenco show started to enjoy it like locals. When you travel for food you can also learn a lot about local cultures and traditions.
Wine Selection Really Does Depend On What You Are Eating
We often will do a wine tour when we travel. You can’t visit South Africa without a visit to the famous Stellenbosch wine region. A stay in the wine regions of southern France is magical in the fall when the grapes are ready to be harvested. The scent of musty grapes hangs heavy in the air. Visit a co-op and get your wine tasting.
Sometimes we just do wine tastings. Often we will get a tour and learn more about local production techniques. In Stellenbosch, we even saw wine kegs that were works of art!
But we have learned the most when we have taken wine tasting courses that focus on teaching a little about both the wines and food pairings. Since Italian food is one of our favourites, we didn’t miss the chance to do an Italian wine tasting course when we cruised across the Atlantic Ocean . We got to sample a wide variety of Italian wines, many that are out of our price range other than for special occasions.
But as interesting was the lessons we learned with wine pairings. Each wine had its own special pairing. We got to taste the wine first with no food and then after the specific pairing. If you didn’t think the food was specifically paired, a taste of another wine quickly showed us that matching wine and foods really does make a difference.
When we travelled in the Lake Garda region of Italy, we also did another wine tour. We visited at harvest time and got to see the grapes being processed. Over a very long lunch , each course was paired with a different wine. David waited patiently for the dessert course to get his sample of sweet wine!
If you travel for food, make sure to add wine tasting to your plans. While you will learn a bit just tasting the wines, do your wine tasting with food pairings and be prepared to expand your wine palette. Many wines you may not like may be just delicious when the right food is served!
Learn To Love Local Specialities
One of the treats of travelling is to try the local specialties. Sometimes you know the food that a region is known for when you arrive and sometimes you discover them as you travel.
Nobody visits Naples without thinking about trying the pizza. Once you have had real Italian pizza, you may never want anything else. We are now so picky about our pizza that we went on a pizza quest when visiting Nassau, Bahamas to find authentic Italian pizza. And yes, we did find it. Surprisingly, we found a strong correlation between great pizza and the availability of Aperol Spritz drinks. Maybe not so surprising when we remember we first saw these tasty orange coloured drinks in Italy!
When we headed to Portugal this year, we knew we would be searching for the perfect custard tarts. Other bloggers teased us with pictures for months before we left. We tried custard tarts when we visited the Portuguese island of Madeira. We tried them in many different spots. But we found the prefect one in the original bakery in the Belem area of Lisbon. Unfortunately, no other custard tarts we tasted ever were quite as good.
When we travel, we eat seafood whenever we get a chance. It is not surprising that so many of our travel destinations have great coastal areas. On our trip to Portugal I added octopus to my seafood diet. We ate octopus grilled, baked and in rice. I had so much octopus that I was worried I would grow another arm!
No trip to New Orleans is complete without sampling a wide variety of local specialties. We managed to avoid the spicy food but still ate our way through New Orleans. The beignets at Cafe Du Monde were worth the wait in line. We visited for Mardi Gras and tried the famous King Cake in multiple forms. You could have local crawfish or alligator cooked in almost any way you can imagine.
David is much more adventurous than I am. He always tries the local beer and finds at least one truly unique local delicacy to try. He had horse tartar when we visited Mantua in Italy and couldn’t resist the buffalo tartar when we stayed in Sorrento Italy. On our visit in Lisbon, he tried the house specialty tartar at a local restaurant. This is one local food that I am passing on. I may travel for food but that does not mean I will try everything!
Enjoy The Food When You Travel
We may not be “foodies” and just travel for food. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try to get great food experiences when we travel. We like to travel with Oceania Cruises because they are known for the quality of their food. We have had so much good food when we have cruised.
Cooking classes are great ways to try local foods and pick up a new dish to cook. You can learn a lot about a culture by learning about their foods and food production. Even if you are not a wine connoisseur, you will enjoy your wines a bit more with a little education. Try the local specialties and you may find a new favourite food!
Do you travel for food? What was your favourite food experience?
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