Trav­el­ling to Eat

The Freeman - - LIFESTYLE - By Elena Peňa

The phrase “food tourism” has be­come some kind of by­word th­ese days. Food tourism, also known as culi­nary tourism, is a prac­tice of trav­el­ing be­yond one’s

im­me­di­ate neigh­bor­hood to find great

food. Of course, the fur­ther one is will­ing to travel, the broader the range of his culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ences

will be.

More and more peo­ple are go­ing places for the very pur­pose of tast­ing the spe­cialty foods that th­ese places are known for. They be­lieve that to get the real taste of the spe­cialty food of a place, they need to have it in that place it­self. Whether it’s “bali-ad” in Ban­tayan or “bakasi” in Cor­dova, en­joy­ing it in its place of ori­gin sup­pos­edly adds to the taste.

A food tourist might start check­ing on the var­i­ous food mar­kets in his own neigh­bor­hood, and then those in the other neigh­bor­hoods nearby. Then he grad­u­ates to mak­ing a “bucket list” of res­tau­rants across the coun­try or the globe to visit in his life­time. Ac­tu­ally, it doesn’t have to be grand; it can be as ca­sual as go­ing to a place to en­joy and mak­ing darn sure that he eats well while he’s there.

Food tourism doesn’t mean that tourists only eat gourmet meals. Of­ten, food tourists are sim­ply in search of au­then­tic or new culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ences. Some like white ta­ble cloth res­tau­rants, while oth­ers pre­fer street food. Food tourism isn’t about the type of food that the tourist eats; it’s about the fact that when peo­ple go to a new place, they seek out new food ex­pe­ri­ences.

Yes, there are trav­el­ers whose main mis­sion is to eat spe­cialty food in its place of ori­gin. Tra­di­tion­ally, in the Philip­pines, it’s usu­ally only the del­i­ca­cies that get bragged about of a place. For ex­am­ple, there’s “kala­may” in Bo­hol, “mo­ron” in Leyte, “kon­selba” of Ne­gros, “bib­ingka” and “masareal” in Man­daue, “torta” in Ar­gao, Car­car “chicharon,” Cat­mon “bod­bod kabog” etc. The rea­son for the pop­u­lar­ity of del­i­ca­cies is that th­ese are the usual “pasalubong” brought back home by trav­el­ers to those places.

The more pop­u­lar del­i­ca­cies are in the form of snacks or desserts, en­joyed out­side of a meal or to cap a meal; and are easy to pass around. This makes for word-of-mouth to eas­ily get around, too. With spe­cialty main dishes, one would have to sit down at a meal to rel­ish them.

So­cial me­dia and the in­ter­net in gen­eral play a big role in get­ting word around about a dish. Food posts on so­cial me­dia, for ex­am­ple, work to whet the cu­rios­ity of many. In the process, many spe­cialty foods have gained wide­spread at­ten­tion.

Of course, a dish would have to have what it takes to be fa­mous, in the first place. It has to have its own unique mouth-wa­ter­ing qual­i­ties that will cre­ate a crav­ing in those that will have tried it. One good ex­am­ple is the Cebu Le­chon.

To­day, food tourism is a world­wide oc­cur­rence. Peo­ple now travel to eat. Well, it isn’t re­ally any­thing new – in the an­cient past, peo­ple also trav­elled great dis­tances to hunt for food.

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