Thursday, 9 October 2014

Have Appetite, Will Travel

There has been a recent emergence of a new travel trend. Born from society’s growing food obsession people now in droves want to undertake travel for food’s sake.

The advent of people considering themselves a Foodie isn't new but in the last ten years they have been propelled from obscurity into the limelight by the media. Television networks such as The Food Network offer 24/7 programming that solely features the wonders of food. Celebrity Chefs are now as recognisable as Hollywood stars and are considered stars in their own rights. An abundance of food magazines have popped up, my favourite of which is Feast produced by Australia’s SBS network with a focus on world food and now we have travel for the food obsessed.

As you can imagine this is right up my alley. My two loves together at last food and travel. Nothing gets me as excited when in a foreign country than the food. It is an insight into a culture and a way to connect deeply with the people. Food comes with traditions that are a linked to the past and present and take you away from the world you know. So what better way to experience a new place than on a Foodie Tour?

 The big players in the market are Intrepid Travel whose Food Adventures brochure can whisk you off to Asia, India, Europe, The Americas and Africa. It is a comprehensive worldwide program that makes my mouth water and threatens my bank balance daily. The lure to undertake one of these adventures is strong. The brochure is adorned with images of vast quantities of exotic food just waiting for me to eat it and as I sit here I lament that my small town in which I work does not sell steaming bowls of Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup).

The newer player in the food travel market has actually been spurred by TV’s successful cooking show Masterchef. I must admit I am partial to a little Masterchef. Watching those pudgy judges simultaneously stuff their faces and slam contestants. The constant parade of celebrity chefs and their devious food creations are a wonder. Not only can you watch everyday people battle it out on TV to find out who is the nation's best home cook but you can now travel with the personalities from the show, participate in hands on cooking classes around the globe and see the world at the same time. Masterchef Travel has been created by Cox and Kings who tout themselves as the world’s longest established travel company so you are in reputable hands and their program can get you from Morocco to India to Mexico and most places in between.

Most of my world travels have had a food slant to them simply due to my own interests I have nibbled Tarantula in Cambodia and stuffed myself with hot pot in China with the best of them but I have never undertaken travel just for the sake of food and to be honest the prospect excites me. The thought of having someone to guide you through the cuisine of a particular country is just a brilliant idea. Let’s be honest, we generally have to eat three times a day and when you are in unfamiliar surroundings it can be daunting. Do you trust the street food? Where is the best food hiding? How do you order off a menu that doesn't have a word of English on it and not end up with deep fried cat? It just makes sense to experience it with a group of like minded travellers and an expert guide to navigate for you.

Group travel doesn't appeal to everyone but from my experiences it can add a whole other dimension to a destination. In Vietnam our guide Matt had the inside scoop on some amazing restaurants. Places we would not have known about without him and were the highlight of the trip. He got us a table at a bustling rooftop restaurant in Saigon in which you cook your own food on the grill right at the table. We also went to a place set up in a sprawling French Colonial building that had street food style vendors all selling their various specialities for you to enjoy at the restaurant tables and pay for in one bill. The one night we were left to our own devices we ended up eating fairly average food in an establishment with little atmosphere and frankly on our own it just wasn't the same as enjoying a meal with a group of travellers.

As with all travel trends they come and go. The consumer is fickle and trends are just that,they don't last for eternity. I do hope the food/travel trend is one to stay. I am just itching to get on one of these trips myself. To see the sights, smell the life and eat the food of the local people. What more can you ask for in life.

The following photos are all from a Peregrine Adventures small group tour I took in Italy and France. I can't recommend Peregrine highly enough. The tour guides were wonderful, the accommodation central and boutique and it had a focus on real experiences. I felt far less like a tourist than I did on many other trips.

Originally posted on Thursday, 9 October 2014 by


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