Passion for food and travel often go hand in hand. And, why not? Few things are as reliably inspiring and satisfying as a great dish and a worthwhile travel experience. Every nation, every region, and every locale brings its own authenticity and flair to cuisine, giving devoted foodies endless opportunities to pair new destinations with new flavors.
It is with the belief that food is best enjoyed when shared that our travel advisors recommend making your next culinary travel experience a group vacation. Foodie vacations aren’t just for adventurous individuals. They can also be the centerpiece of an unforgettable bonding experience with friends or family! If the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, then connecting with friends can be made all the more worthwhile on a culinary vacation.
Food (Tourism) with Friends
Here are a few ways you and your friends can enjoy food tourism together at whatever foodie destination inspires you!
Perhaps the seminal culinary tourism experience, eating in traditional restaurants provides patrons with a real-world food education and an instant emotional connection to their destination. These establishments are often older, located in historic neighborhoods, and have timeless menus filled with classic dishes.
Scoping out the best traditional restaurants in a destination is fun in its own right, as you and your friends enjoy selecting (and maybe even debating) your choice of traditional restaurant. It’s best to choose one that represents the culinary travel experience you seek.
For instance, the up-and-coming Bangladesh food scene provides plenty of options in fascinating historic neighborhoods. Bangladeshi food is hybrid by nature due to the nation’s recent colonial history. Ingredients from all over the world can be found in Bangladeshi cuisine. Traditional seafood stews can be enjoyed with savory French-style pastries, hearty Japanese rice dishes, and fragrant Thai herbs and sauces. Expect a full range of rich flavors from an older restaurant with a low profile in a place like Bangladesh.
Food festivals come in many shapes and sizes to serve a variety of functions. Some make cuisine their focus while others celebrate special occasions with notable dishes.
One such food inspired festival occurs each year in the small town of Bunol, near Valencia, Spain. If you’ve seen the pulp-drenched images of this event, aptly named La Tomatina, they are impossible to forget. Patrons of the event celebrate by throwing juicy, bright red tomatoes at one another.
Billed the World’s Largest Food Fight, La Tomatina is a living example of how food and culture intersect. Foodie friends will enjoy La Tomatina for its copious sangria drinking, open-air parties called “verbenas” that feature local Valencian eats and the festival’s opening ceremony involving a paella cookoff! For the uninitiated, paella is Spain’s traditional dish of rice and seafood and has been a staple Spanish dish for centuries.
Perhaps one of the most enticing parts of foodie travel is the opportunity to mingle with residents of a destination who are passionate about food. If food tells a story, you want that story narrated by those who know it best.
Another European nation stands out as a top venue for a foodie vacation stop, this time with a world-famous gastro-themed event. Belgium’s Antwerpen Proeft (Taste of Antwerp) is a four-day event held annually for the last 15 years. This event features a coming together of families from all over Antwerp to enjoy signature dishes from local restaurants for a fraction of their usual price.
Event guests sit shoulder to shoulder with one another to enjoy this celebration of taste and culture for an immersive experience perfect for outgoing food travelers. You can expect more than Belgian classics at this festival. Previous menus have highlighted a local culture of culinary fusion including haute cuisine and sophisticated East-West food fusions
Food Fairs and Markets
This classic foodie travel starting point takes on a new meaning when visiting destinations where local markets are a cultural mainstay. The Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo is one such example of a local market turned global food destination. Tsukiji exemplifies the centuries-old maritime culture that defines the island nation with a selection of seafood including fish, shellfish, and squids.
With over 400 food stalls and a bevy of restaurants featuring traditional Japanese cuisine, you can spend mornings meandering the rows of fresh ingredients and street-food delicacies at Tsukiji Market. You and your traveling companions can enjoy guided culinary tours of the market where you can sample Tokyo delicacies, learn to roll sushi, and sample traditional alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.