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Are you a culinary traveler? — 22 clues

Submitted by on August 15, 2009 – 7:40 pm 2 Comments

Madrid tapas bar.

Madrid tapas bar.

You know you’re a culinary traveler when:

Whether it’s a day trip, a weekend escape or a round-the-world vacation, what you eat and drink will be interesting, memorable and a highlight.

Returning from a vacation, it’s not tschotkes that weigh down your suitcase. It’s the edible delights. Maple syrup from Quebec, a bottle of Clément V.S.O.P. (rum) from Martinique, Tabasco if you’ve been to Louisiana, your plunder from Harrods Food Hall if London was your destination.

Ferry Plaza, San Francisco.

Ferry Plaza, San Francisco.

Returning from a vacation, food memories make you want to pack you bags, kick up your heels and set off again.

If it was a business trip, you’ve made it your business to discover an exciting restaurant and spent some downtime indulging in the culinary pleasures of the place.

If you were in South Africa, you ate bunny chow and Portuguese peri-peri chicken in Durban, relished Cape Malay delights in Cape Town and savored pinotage at wineries in Paarl and Stellenbosch.

Your travels excite your inner chef. You return from Spain itching to invite friends for a tapas party; you get back from Munich dying to serve them sausages and beer; you drive home from Princeton-by-the-Sea during Dungeness season ready to host a crab feed.

When travelin’ you always explore the markets, browse the delis and experiment with what the locals eat.

Diavola, Geyserville.

Diavola, Geyserville.

At home you explore the markets, browse the delis and learn about other cultures through your restaurant choices and trying your hand at what other cultures cook.

You want to know where the food you eat was grown and how it got to your plate. When you know, you can appreciate the flavors of the journey.

You consult the library, read books and use google to inform yourself on the trademark foods and traditions of a country before you visit.

Michael Fabbro, San Francisco.

Michael Fabbro, San Francisco.

Whatever it is, if it’s core to the country’s cuisine and you’ve traveled there, you’re game to try it.

Unless it totally turns your stomach — in which case you shelve it for next time.

If someone asks you about your culinary culture and traditions, you’re happy to hold forth on the topic and confidently produce a meal.

The Golden Arches have no lure at the best of times — and least of all while you’re traveling.

You see the merits of introducing your kids to farmers, to nutritious foods, and to exotic treats that tickle their taste buds while teaching them about cultural diversity.

You don’t eat anonymous food.

You love to eat fresh and local wherever you are.

Basque breakfast Bakersfield.

Basque breakfast Bakersfield.

You may not be a food expert or watch the food channel but you’re curious learn, you probably subscribe to Saveur and most likely have an enviable selection to cookbooks that all give an exotic sense of place.

You care about where your coffee was grown.

You could get very excited about a vacation built around a cooking class in Europe, South Africa or Northern California wine country.

You return from your trips with more pictures taken in restaurants than in museums.

You see food as a delicious adventure.


Copyright Wanda Hennig, 2009

Photos Wanda Hennig


What do you think makes a culinary traveler?

2 Comments »

  • meg kiuchi says:

    Except for five of the above, my friend, Naomi NIshioka qualifies for being a culinary traveler. I shouldn’t count the requirement re introducing the kids….etc. because she has none. But does taking her nephews count?

    When we were in Paris she thought nothing of taking the Metro plus three other stops to taste the best caramel in Paris. She did buy a few packets to take home as well. Picture with the candymaker was not included on the list; however, she did get her to pose with her.

  • Mary says:

    When you keep a travel diary of where you ate and what you ate so you can share with friends.

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