Tapas Tandoori and Thai? Yum!
Although museums and ancient historical sites hold enormous importance for the cultured traveler, there’s nothing quite like the appeal of food and drink when traveling to a new place. Practically every culture on Earth has a unique take on what it eats, born of the crops that grow in the local area, customs, and religion.
As a society, we’re becoming more open to the food histories of other cultures. But most of us are only exposed to the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sheer variety of flavors out there. To really get to know a food culture, you have to travel to the destination and sample it yourself. But where should you go for the best experience? Take a look at some of these ideas.
Midwestern United States for Wines
Midwestern US For Wines
The midwestern US is typically seen as a vast expanse of wildness, great for adventuring and hiking. But the region is also becoming popular for something else: its wine.
Missouri has been growing grapes and selling European inspired wines for many years now. Although the industry was tiny in the mid-1990s, it’s becoming larger and larger, bumping traditional stalls like corn dogs and funnel cakes aside at state fairs.
The boom in wine production has come from farmers in the region seeking new hobbies and looking for more ways to make money. The economies of some of the midwestern states, especially outside of cities like Missouri, have become somewhat stagnated over the last couple of decades, and so growers in the region are looking for ways to boost their incomes and expand the range of products that they offer.
The need to improve the economy has led to a plethora of new wine producers, all looking to outdo the other. Not only is this good for the wine scene in general, but it’s also great for people travelling to the region. You can now go on wine tours and explore this fascinating new industry, sampling US-made wines, over a thousand miles from the Napa Valley.
Delhi Tandoori In India
You might think that you know Indian cuisine already because you’ve had take-out. But unless you’ve been to the subcontinent and tried the food for yourself, you’ve probably got a warped opinion of the food.
Although the Indian diet is high in spices, that’s about the only resemblance to western-style Indian restaurants. India has a tradition of vegetarianism. Most popular dishes are not based on meat and dairy, but lentils, beans, and rice, three of the cheapest and most abundant sources of food.
Yes, it’s true that the Indian diet is changing, just like it is all over the developing world, as modern food systems add oil, fat, and sugar to the menu. But India is still developing, with much of the country sticking to its traditional roots – at least for the time being.
Perhaps one of the most interesting culinary experiences is to be found in Delhi, the nation’s capital. Delhi is renowned for its tandoori-style ovens which cook meat and vegetables in a unique, aromatic way. You could also travel to the cities of Lucknow and Chennai, famous for their use of saffron and coriander.
South American Vineyards
South America wasn’t always the wine Mecca that it is today. But thanks to an excellent climate in places like Chile, the region has become popular all over the world. No, it doesn’t have the history of French wine growing, but it is something unique and novel. Moreover, some of the most stunning scenery in the world surrounds the wine-growing valleys.
Where should you go during your trip? If you start in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, you can get to know some of the local wines that Argentinians drink on a daily basis. Then head west towards the Calchaquies Valley, a significant wine-growing region with opportunities to taste wine during different phases of the production process. If you continue on Route 40, you’ll arrive at Calafate. The town is known all over the region for its dry white wine, called Torrontes. It is also home to a number of good restaurants where you can enjoy a meal with your glass.
If you’ve never been to Bangkok, then you’re in for a bit of a treat. The city is one of the most eclectic in the world: a mix of ultra-modern and ultra-wealthy, with tradition and chaos. The city feels alive, and nowhere more so than in its food scene.
Bangkok is probably the best place in the world to sample street food. Artisans here cook food on portable grills right in front of your eyes, using ingredients bought that morning from local markets.
Thai dishes have a certain effervescent quality about them. The combination of chili, lemongrass, and ginger is genuinely distinctive and unique. Perhaps the most famous food region in the whole country is that of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is home to some of the world’s most illustrious Buddhist monks. Monks sometimes have to fast until mid-afternoon as part of their religious observance. Once they’ve finished fasting, they’re brought offerings of food made by other followers.
Finally, if you’re interested in sampling everything Thailand has to offer, it’s a good idea to head south to the island of Koh Lanta. Because of its closeness to Malaysia, the food here has a certain fruity tinge. It’s worth trying out.
The Loire Valley In France
The Loire Valley was once the playground for the French monarchy. It’s now a playground for foodies, littered with old chateaux, fabulous restaurants, and the opportunity to peruse wine-fields and sample cheese.
Probably the best way to enjoy the Loire (especially in the summer) is to combine it with a cycling trip. The region is relatively flat, and it’s possible to cycle along rarely-used French country roads from one grower to another. What’s more, it’s a great way to burn off some of that cheese that you’ll be enjoying during your journey. What are you waiting for?