One of the great thrills of traveling is the chance to sample the cuisine from other parts of the world. As Americans, we may have certain preconceived notions of different region’s food offerings—Italy’s famous pizza and pasta, Asian dumplings, Moroccan couscous—but oftentimes a trip abroad will open up new worlds of food and flavor that we’ve never previously considered. In the spirit of seeking out authentic local cuisine on our travels, we do our best to include a few food-based adventures in many of our tours. From home-hosted dinners to cooking classes and wine tastings, the tours below offer a range of delights for the food- and drink-loving traveler.
On our leisurely cruise through the canals of Burgundy, we are afforded ample time to enjoy the region’s fabled cuisine. Every day at lunch on board, we sample cheeses from different regions of the country – Charles de Gaulle once famously lamented that he could not rule a nation which produced 365 different varieties of cheese! We also enjoy an excursion and tasting along the Grand Crus wine route, and are able to enjoy complimentary wine and cocktails aboard ship.
In the cuisine-rich nation of Portugal, we dive in with a a “six-bridge” cruise on the Douro River, source of the microclimate responsible for the grapes that make Oporto’s famous port wine and upon whose banks the Romans planted grapevines centuries ago. Our tour ends with a visit to a port lodge for a tasting of the fortified wine exclusive to the region. Later, we enjoy a trip to a country estate lush with vineyards, olive groves, and forests of cork oak. Here we learn about olive oil production and enjoy a tasting, followed by a lunch in the lovely surroundings.
We have two culturally relevant food experiences in Takayama: first, we attend a traditional Japanese tea ceremony where we learn this 12th century style of prepping tea. The next day, we visit the centuries-old Miyagawa Morning Market, where stalls selling everything from fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers to pickles, crafts, and fish line the streets leading to the river. While here we gather fresh ingredients to take with us to our next activity – a hands-on cooking class. For lunch we enjoy the fruits of our labor.
We visit several pillars of the local food scene during our trip to Vietnam. In Da Nang, we explore a village nestled amidst seemingly endless rice paddies. On our walking tour through this village, we see the life that many people live, but few outsiders consider, with water buffaloes plowing the fields and villagers riding to markets with produce piled high on their bicycles. A cooking lesson and dinner this evening reinforces the importance of the work this morning’s villagers do. Later, we take a boat excursion through the bustling floating vegetable market at Cai Rang, navigating the crowded waters to gain another perspective on Vietnam’s foodie culture.
While staying in the pink city of Jaipur, we have the opportunity to enjoy dinner in the home of a multigenerational Rajasthan family. This provides a fascinating window on Indian life and an opportunity to experience the traditional society from which India is transitioning to a more urban lifestyle.
Way down at the southern tip of South America, in the region of Patagonia, we visit a local estancia (ranch) for a home-hosted barbecue lunch. While the majority of this tour centers around reveling in the splendid natural scenery of Patagonia, our visit to the estancia (where we witness a sheepdog exhibition and a sheep-shearing demonstration in addition to lunch) offers a fascinating look at how the locals live in this remote region.
Italy is one of the consensus best food countries in the world, and we offer a number of food-related adventures. In addition to dining at local restaurants and offering ample leisure time for dining on your own, we also attend a cooking demonstration followed by dinner at Ristorante Zeppelin, a Culinary Art Institute in the heart of Orvieto. And for oenophiles, we enjoy a tour and tasting at a winery in San Gimignano.
While not particularly well-known for its food, Scotland is revered for its whisky. And on our jaunt through the Scottish Highlands, we stop in for a tour and tasting at a small local distillery that has been producing handcrafted single-malt whisky for generations.
Our list of Sicilian food-centric experiences is too numerous to detail, and includes a street food experience in Palermo, visit to the Trapani salt pans, wine tasting and lunch in the pastoral countryside, cooking demonstration in Agrigento, and farmhouse lunch amidst acres of lemon and kiwi groves near the slopes of Mount Etna.
In Luang Prabang, we see the life of local farmers up close as we visit a community-based rice farm situated in the scenic Laotian countryside. We learn about the climate and work necessary to grow rice and have the opportunity to try our hands at some of the rice farming activities. And while it doesn’t fall into the food creation/consumption pattern, we join the local food economy one day in Luang Prabang by handing out alms (in the form of rice) to the local monks.
We visit the same Etna-adjacent farmhouse on this tour as we do on our Sicily in Depth trip, as it is such a wonderful experience. Further, in Sorrento, we gather for a hands-on demonstration of Neapolitan cooking – then enjoy the fruits of our labor for dinner.
Though it may not spring to mind as such, Peru ranks as one of the top destinations in the world for travelers with a discerning palate. Peruvian food is a cornucopia of tropical fruit, fish, vegetables (there are more than 3,000 kinds of potatoes!), served hot and spicy with ají and ajo (hot pepper and garlic). A sampling of specialties: ceviche (raw fish marinated in citrus juice spiced with red onion and ají); escabeche (cooked fish served cold, with peppers and onions); papa a la huancaina (potato with cheese and chili sauce), ají de gallina (shredded chicken in a spicy cream sauce), and the list goes on. In Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca empire, we savor our time as guests in the homes of gracious families for lunch. And don’t forget to try a pisco sour, the local cocktail made from strong grape brandy.