Imagine a savoury broth bubbling in a giant pot, right out on the street. An elderly woman minds the pot, but isn’t really stirring it or adding anything to it, just simply watching it. As you walk by, a heavenly aroma hits your nose first, then your stomach as it starts to growl in hunger, or rather, desire for that delicious smelling broth. You probably have no idea what’s in it, but all you know is that you’ve gotta have it. You’re in Vietnam, and that pot of boiling broth, beef and who knows what else is going to be yours in a minute.
These types of almost divine encounters are the whole reason why some of us travel. We long for the back alleys that serve 10 cent egg rolls, or the to die for samosa that we had off of a street cart. Food draws us together as humans, regardless of who we are or where we came from. So, it’s no real surprise that food tourism has exploded recently, and has become more popular than many other types of tours. Let’s look deeper into why this phenomenon has happened in the first place, and then dive into where to go for the best food tours across the world.
Rise of food shows
Raise your hand if you loved Anthony Bourdain’s shows, or have binged on at least a few episodes of the Great British Bake off at once. Netflix alone boasts dozens of amazing shows about food that are anything from extreme baking competitions to shows about wild boar hunting and rustic cooking.
There seems to be a clear link between our interest in food as a society, and our intake of food related television shows. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re spending more time cooking, however. In fact, studies have shown that we’re actually spending more time watching food be cooked than cooking ourselves! But what it may mean is that these food shows have ignited our interest in food, specifically, food that we don’t usually eat ourselves. Some of Anthony Bourdain’s most iconic episodes were about places that most of us haven’t visited, or are more remote, like Libya or Cuba. But these shows bring us the cuisine that we’ve never even heard of, and makes us hunger for more.
Rise of amazing, accessible food
Getting a gourmet meal doesn’t mean leaving your house anymore. Now, we can have a fantastic tikka masala or our local authentic Italian delivered to our door with apps like Uber Eats. The accessibility of good food has changed our taste buds, and also changed what we crave. You can run down to your local cafe and get a fresh meal with beautiful ingredients, locally sourced and organic, if you want. One could say that the accessibility of great food makes us hunger for more, and also makes us want to explore restaurants and different types of food even more.
Rise of food blogs
Food blogging has fast become a giant in the blogging world, and has definitely contributed to an increase in travel and interest in food. Between social media posts and a blogger’s rundown of the best food in a particular area, getting an amazing photo op with a delicious meal is almost worth more than eating it. Some people travel to destinations for that perfect hidden beach shot in Bali, and some travel to replicate that amazing shot of papaya salad in Thailand.
Street food tours
Now that we know some of the factors for why food tours have become so popular as of late, where should we book our tickets for the best food tours around the world?
Remember the ode to steamy, delicious smelling broth at the beginning of this article? Yep, you’re in for a treat if you’re aiming to find a food tour in Southeast Asia. If you’re traveling through Vietnam, we highly recommend street food tours along your way. Street food, like in many countries, is an excellent way to not only eat amazing food, but to get a taste (literarily), for the flavour of a place and the culture. North and South Vietnam food has different flavours, so we’d recommend two food tours to get a taste for both.
Street food tours are actually an excellent way to eat your way across all of SouthEast Asia if we’re being honest. They’ll also get you out of your comfort zone if you tend to stick to sit-in restaurants with English menus.
Speaking of street food, China is an excellent place to get fantastic nibbles off the carts. Here’s some of the best street food to look out for, and you’ll get most of these on a street food tour in the big cities.
Who doesn’t want to go on a taco tour? Mexico City is the heart of amazing Mexican cuisine, and is a perfect place to grab a food tour. If you’ve never had the privilege of eating tacos al pastor, get yourself over to Mexico ASAP to eat as much as possible.
If wild, rich and intense flavours is your jam, a food tour in India is going to blow your socks off! New Delhi is a perfect place to start your adventure in Indian food, and you can book tours in various ways. If you’re looking for more of an all inclusive trip, look for trips that offer both group accommodation and food tours all in one.
Home of the infamous and absolutely divine paella, Spain is a perfect location to eat your heart out on a food tour. If you’re up for it, we’d recommend renting a car and trying out tours in multiple cities across Spain, as the flavours vary from city to city.
If all of this talk of food hasn’t made you hungry yet, try google imaging any of the above foods. We can almost guarantee you’ll be booking a food tour ticket within no time! Happy food trails!