If you’re anything like me, food culture is a significant element in any trip – even if I’m staying in my home country. I like to find out what’s happening in food in my destination and include it in my itinerary. Food trends move pretty fast these days but there are some key ones that you can do this year if you want to keep up with the current fads and fashions.
1. Food Halls and Farmers Markets
One of the great foodie things to do on holiday is to try the food halls of shopping malls and main train stations and the farmers markets in city and town centers. Many food courts and food halls showcase the talents of food artisans, celebrity chefs and local gastro-heroes these days. Traditionally, places like Harrods in London, Galleries Lafayette in Paris and the KaDeWe in Berlin have been foodie meccas, but now the new Markthal in Rotterdam has joined the legions of new food courts and food halls that serve gourmets around the world. Stunning interior architecture, an amazing choice and quality of product make these places tourist attractions in their own right. Try "The Source" food hall in Denver, the "Locale Market" in St. Petersburg Florida and "Stir Market" in Los Angeles, "Gotham West Market" in New York or "Krog Street Market" in Atlanta and see for yourself.
2. Foraging for Your Supper
Are friends already talking about your "wild eating habits"? You've probably been caught foraging for your supper once too often. Among the more unusual foodie things to do on holiday are hunting for mushrooms, digging for roots or gathering berries and nuts in hedgerows. This growing trend for foraging has engendered new ideas. Local restaurants may invite tourists to join creative craft cocktail parties or help concoct post-excursion menus from foraged foods. "No Taste Like Home", a foraging tour company based in Asheville, North Carolina, is one such company. Visit your local "hyper market" with a basket in hand and let the experts guide you what mushrooms and roots are edible. There are more than 70 species of fungi and more than 150 different plants, according to restaurant Chef Jonathan Sawyer of Trentina Restaurant in Cleveland and his wild-food forager Jeremy Umanskym, that visitors can gather and transform into a tasty meal.
3. Hook & Cook Your Own Meal
Fishing and hunting is not everybody's idea of foodie things to do on holiday. Nobody expects you to become a Big Game hunter overnight, but if you can get over the initial shock of hooking a worm, you can look forward to a mini-adventure and a great meal at the end of the day. There are numerous places where you can learn trout-fishing and working farms where you can go back to basics and learn how food is "reared" and then processed for your dinner table. At Murski Homestead Bed & Breakfast you can go hunting for feathered farm animals, and find them later turned into yummy Southern fried chicken with locally made buttermilk. And if the killing part puts you off: at CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa foodie guests can meet local fishermen and choose the fish or seafood they'd like to eat that day in the hotel.
4. Grilled Locusts Anyone?
What has long been a tasty tradition in Africa and Thailand is gradually becoming the latest foodie craze in Western society: edible insects. Ever wondered what a grilled ant tastes like? Munching on locusts or bugs may not be your idea of gourmet things to do on holiday, but more and more restaurants are beginning to offer creepy crawlies on their menus. At Don Bugito, an edible insect street food project based in San Francisco, California, the organizers praise the healthy diet edible insects bring us. Since edible insects are rich in protein and amino acids but contain little if nothing of the unhealthy fat we usually gobble, your dish of grilled locusts looks suddenly far more appealing, does it not?
5. Waste Not, Want Not: Reduction in Food Waste
How often have you despaired over the amount of food waste generated by your parent's fridge alone? One of the greatest foodie things to do on holiday is to learn how to reduce food waste at home and as society as a whole. Various new organizations are actively engaged in tackling the food waste issue and some have already launched similar anti food-waste campaigns like the Real Junk Food Project in England or the Rub & Stub campaign in Copenhagen, Denmark for example. Look out for supermarkets and greengrocers selling "misshapen" fruit and vegetables, often at huge discounts. An oval apple is just as tasty as a round one!
6. Share a Meal
Meal sharing is gaining momentum because of continued economic pressure households face and because travelers are always looking for the latest craze. Peer-to-peer platforms like EatWith, Feastly, Meal Sharing and Cookapp aim to direct more tourists away from restaurants and into local homes where they can get to know natives and enjoy authentic, home-cooked food. Platform Meal Sharing, founded in 2013, now boasts 450 cities worldwide. At the end of the meal you and your hosts give reviews, which aims to build trust and a feeling of safety. It's a great way to learn about local foods and make new friends.
7. Dealing with Invasive Seafood in a Responsible Way
If you want to help the environment, don't order cod or lobster; one of the responsible foodie things to do on holiday is to eat seafood pests! Blue catfish, Asian shore crabs and lionfish all have one thing in common: they are non-indigenous sea creatures that have invaded our waterways and devastated whole ecosystems. Many chefs are tackling the issue by including such beasties increasingly in their menus to help indigenous species recover and reduce the numbers of invaders. Chefs working for restaurants like Michael's Genuine at Camana Bay on Grand Cayman and Miya's Sushi in New Haven, Connecticut, have gone one step further and have based their menus on invasive seafood. Watch out Asian shore crabs and lionfish!
So what are you going to put on your holiday menu? I’m still yet to try insects. Maybe I’ll be brave and try a chocolate coated grasshopper. Deep fried cricket anyone?