People who choose a food tour when they travel abroad tend to relax in different ways from tourists who like to lie on beaches or sip cocktails by a swimming pool. Of course, food tourists may spend some of their time enjoying such leisure pursuits, or even exploring natural landscapes such as mountains or rivers; but what they mostly aim to enjoy and experience are the culinary and cultural highlights of a destination.
On the culinary side, private tours of restaurant kitchens are a must, as they offer the chance for food travellers to see how local specialities are prepared. The best bars, taverns and vineyards are also on the best itineraries, in order to ensure an authentic taste of what the locals imbibe.
Taking Vietnam as one example, where food tours are growing in popularity, a culinary trip to this intriguing Asian nation might include all of the above as well as side trips to see how historical and geographical influences have led people to eat less beef, pork and chicken than they do freshwater fish, mollusks and crustaceans (notably, tasty crabs). The trip might also include insights into the production of soy sauce, prawn sauce and fish sauce, all of which are used to flavour Vietnamese dishes.
Heading south to Singapore, the fifth-busiest port in the world, means learning and tasting how international influences impact on a country’s cuisine. Experienced chefs guide food lovers through a multi-cultural landscape of fine food that includes the best flavours from India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia, not to mention a few English staples that have survived since the colonial era.
Such details and influences are more easily understood when relayed by experts, which is why professional chefs and other food and drink experts are often employed as guides on the best culinary tours. This is even more crucial in country’s such as Japan, where culture and history are intricately woven into the menus and recipes that make it one of the world’s most varied, healthy and exciting cuisines.
Beyond the Asian trail, Tuscany serves up a wealth of treats for foodies on a tour of its kitchens and historical sites. A trip to an olive-processing destination such as Moraiolo, Leccino or Frantoiano, for example, will reveal the secrets of EVOO. In fact, a food tour in Tuscany will reveal how simple, fresh ingredients can be made into exquisite dishes and delectable drinks, and the traditional cooking skills passed on during such a trip could never be gleaned from a recipe book or online guide.
Taking a series of 3- or 4-day food tours or even a longer 10-day culinary adventure can be an inspiring travel experience indeed. You will return to your country with a full list of culinary treats to create, and you’ll be bursting with new knowledge of the cultures you discovered.