A World Of Food
Words by Michelle Jackson Rowe
I love food, not just because it keeps me alive, but because of what it represents within a culture. I love how new trends and recipes are discovered and slowly make their way around the world - quinoa is the perfect example; five years ago most of us had never heard of quinoa, but this wonderful grain actually dates all the way back to the Incas in the 16th century. Rediscovered by travellers to Bolivia, Chile and Peru in the 1970s, you’ll now find it on most cafe menus around the world.
I’ve been making food a big part of my travels for years, but only recently have I made a trip somewhere because of a food event and then added in all the sightseeing etc. afterwards.
I was surprised at how many people thought this was strange - conversations tended to go something like this:
“So, you’re going to Ireland because of a festival about garlic?”
“I mean, I’ll explore Dublin while I’m there, but yeah the main reason for my trip is to check out the garlic festival”
“(awkward pause)... well have a nice time”
I’m not sure why food tourism is still so unusual; how many people travel around the world to watch teams play sports?
Well, sport isn’t my thing (although I did travel to London for the Olympics in 2012) but food, oh I will travel for food. A bizarre festival, the best restaurant in the world, a cooking class, or just to experience something that I would never be able to at home. These are all perfectly good reasons to pack a bag and head out somewhere new.
If you love food, but haven’t quite taken the leap to arrange a trip around it yet, here are some ideas to get you started in Europe:
Eat Traditional Neapolitan Pizza at the oldest Pizzeria:
Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba has been serving pizza in Naples since 1738. A small restaurant that is always busy with friendly waiters bustling around hungry customers (if you haven’t reserved a table for dinner, you’re better off going for lunch). Don’t expect a deep-pan option, though. By law, to call it a Neapolitan Pizza, the base must be no more than 3mm thick.
Eat Dinner in the Great Hall in Hogwarts
One for the Harry Potter fans, at certain times of the year (December usually has the most dates) the Harry Potter Studio Tour opens up the Great Hall for people to eat in there. Yep, amazing. As you can imagine, these dinners are booked up very quickly, so get yourself on the mailing list and book as soon as they announce those dates. You can sort your flights etc. out later!
Eat at the Best Restaurant in the World
La Liste use a rather scientific method to rank restaurants around the world. They take the ratings given to restaurants from more than 200 guide books and trusted publications, convert them into a standard grade and then create a database of the top 1000 restaurants in the world.
Right now L’Hotel de Ville in Crissier (near Lausanne), Switzerland is at Number One - with a score of 82.35 out of 100. As if eating such amazing food wasn’t enough, the restaurant also offers cooking classes.
Eat Dinner in the Sky
No, I don’t mean questionable aeroplane food at 37,000 feet. I’m talking about being sat at a table with 21 other people, while you are suspended by a crane 150 feet above Brussels, Belgium. Sip on champagne, while a Michelin Starred chef makes dinner for you and marvel at the amazing view of the Cinquantenaire arches.
This year is the 10th Anniversary of Dinner In The Sky and it looks like they have something very special planned (I’m hearing rumours about multiple tables over the world famous Atomium) so get yourself on that mailing list pronto.
If a good food festival is more your thing - there are quite frankly a gazillion to choose from in Europe. Here are a few to whet your appetite…
Festa Frawli - Strawberry Festival
A celebration of everything strawberry, this annual festival has become incredibly popular over the years in the small rural town of Imgarr.
A constant supply of delicious freshly picked strawberries are on sale throughout the day, ferried regularly to the town square by the farmers themselves.
All kinds of desserts, snacks and drinks are available, prepared on-site in an open-air kitchen. Professional chefs prepare dishes, such as ravioli, using fresh strawberries. and there are homemade strawberry wines, jams and conserves on sale, as well as souvenirs and local arts and crafts.
As if all that isn’t enough, there is also a second kitchen preparing traditional Maltese dishes and lots of traditional musical performances and dance numbers.
Talk about an incredible way of honouring the agricultural heritage in Malta.
The 2016 event takes place on April 10th.
Taste the Mediterranean
The beautiful coastal town of Sibenik, Croatia is the home of the Taste the Mediterranean festival. The festival is a three day event that showcases all there is to love about mediterranean food plus local wine and traditional Dalmatian dishes.
The incredible program includes cooking masterclasses from Michelin starred chefs, wine tastings, markets, panel discussions and so much more.
The next event takes place on 26th to 29th May 2016
In this fast-changing modern world it is our duty to preserve the sweet treats of our ancestors (a very noble cause that I am happy to support!) and to help us on our mission is Sweet Istria an International Festival of Desserts.
This two-day event, held in Koper, Slovenia, also showcases creative contemporary treats. Follow the trails around the city centre and discover desserts from all around the world.
As if that wasn’t enough, there are also a number of workshops and special events alongside the festival. Plus there is a Land of Chocolate, for goodness sake, and a competition for the best cake.
The next event takes place on 17th and 18th September.
Happy exploring (and eating) guys!