What I’ve Learned from Taking Food Tours
May 10 2016
I wasn’t always a foodie. And even now, I guess it’s not quite the right word to describe my interest in food. I love to cook, I love to eat, but does that make me a “foodie”? Probably not. But, something I’ve learned from an intense six years of traveling and living around the world is the importance of food. How it’s a part of our culture, a part of the way we explore. In so many countries around the world, food and drinks are so intertwined into the cultural traditions that it’s a natural part of the tourist experience.
Can you imagine going to Spain and not eating tapas? Italy without gelato? New York City without a slice of pizza? England without fish and chips? Food is a natural extension of a destination, and that’s why I’ve found myself hooked on one of the latest tourist trends: food tours.
Food tours have taught me so much more about the local cultures and customs than any other tour I’ve taken. It was a food tour in Madrid, which led me to a hipster, vintage market. A food tour in Antwerp, where I discovered Belgium’s history with chocolate and beer. A food tour in Rome, where I learned more about Roman history than I did about pizza. These tours have opened my travel experiences up to totally unexpected knowledge. A new way to explore — and a tasty one at that!
It’s no surprise that food tours are a unique insight into a new place or a new culture. Rather than historical tours, food tours offer a different perspective of exploring a new place. They often take place in neighborhoods outside of the city center, ones where the culture is intertwined with the cuisine. Like a tour I took through New York City’s Chinatown district, or a tour in Rome through the Testaccio neighborhood (a neighborhood often overlooked by Rome tourists). These off-the-beaten-path experiences showcase unexpected delights from a city, alongside delicious food tastings.
Another benefit to taking a food tour is the fact that you get to try foods you might have otherwise missed. In New York City, everyone knows that the city’s Little Italy has the best Italian food, and that Chinatown has the best Chinese food. But, how do you decide which restaurant or bakery to stop in for a cannoli or an egg roll? Easy. On a food tour, they take you to their favorite place. And a local’s recommendation is almost always better than a blind guess.
Here are my top three reasons why you, too, should take food tours when you travel:
1) Culture: Food is an inherent part of any culture, and these tours often explore the culture as much as the cuisine.
2) Restaurant Recommendations: A food tour is only as successful as its restaurants and food stops, so you’re bound to end up at the best places to eat and drink in a city. There’s no reason for the tour to skimp on the product.
3) Local Experience: On a food tour, you not only get to see the local culture with a local guide, but you get to enjoy an entire meal with a local. And, as anyone who’s ever had a meal with a local will tell you, you’re bound to have some good conversation, plus the opportunity to ask non-touristic questions.
Have you ever taken a food tour? What’d you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Wanna take a food tour? Check out Eating Europe Food Tours for tours in Rome, London, Amsterdam, and Prague.