Food is something we so often take for granted. For most of us, we are spoiled for choice whenever we feel a craving, or simply to keep our energy up.
And yet, when we travel, food takes on an entirely new connotation and significance. It brings moments to life with heightened sensuality and sensibility, and in so doing, our memories become so much more powerful.
Recognising this, a number of years ago, the Trafalgar team took on this task; to exhibit the senses and spirit of each destination through its local food.
Last week, I was reminded of how far we’ve come by a wonderful letter I received from a first time, but extremely well-travelled Trafalgar guest. In it she described how few things impact her favourite travel experiences like connecting the dots of travel like mouthfuls of magic.
Why is food such a vital part of travel? Food acts as an important conduit for our richest, most rewarding experiences. It mirrors the culture and spirit of the places we visit, as well as the locals we meet on our journeys. It is when we travel that we see, and feel, just what a powerful role food has to play in defining and enjoying different places, people, and their ways of living.
It is therefore understandable that today, Food Tourism is one of the fastest growing areas of our industry. The draw of travellers to be able to eat incredible food, learn about its origins, its ingredients, its art of preparation, have given life to not only tourist activity around the globe, but more so to the people living in places home to the world’s culinary creations. This in turn has created livelihoods for tens of thousands of culinary “artisans” in all their various shapes, in their hometowns, villages and communities around the world. Another wonderful example of how tourism brings richness to life of not just travellers, but also to their hosts.
I find this awakening to local foods and food sharing customs, inspiring and exciting. But I cannot help but smile, for to me this has always been what being an ‘Insider’ is all about.
It was with this in mind that in 2010 we experimented with our our first ‘Be My Guest’ experience; to showcase for our guests how local authentic food will provide a great insight into the people, and the cultures of where we visit. After all, this is what we love to do!
Today whether it’s the Baj-Macarios family’s 12 Century castle in Tuscany, where our guests enjoy 100% organic locally sourced produce (the majority of the food comes from the estate itself), a café in Vienna, a farmhouse in Britain’s Lake District, a beach restaurant on the shores of Lahinch, Ireland where after a foraging walk on the with Oonagh and Teresa, whose motto is ‘grow, find, cook, eat’ – our guests eat some the food which they have foraged and savour their amazing local seaweed bread.
These mealtime discoveries extend to all destinations around the world. I was recently in Northern California where Todd and Jordan’s Happy Girl Kitchen is a rare discovery of organic produce, local farming, and food preservation from their time living and working on a farm in Norway. Likewise “cowboy hat Peter”, the wine blending specialist at Ravenswood.
As the earlier mentioned traveller wrote, “Each of these food journeys brings destinations alive”, and they are so greatly valued by our guests as being simply the best, holidays.
In 2016, I am personally looking forward to a greater discovery of food in Asia. Janice, who runs our product and operations, has initiated an incredible relationship with the Kyoto restaurant in Vietnam, a non-profit social enterprise that provides training to disadvantaged young people in the hospitality industry. Not to mention the cooking classes in the Ginza district of Tokyo, Japan, where our guests have the opportunity to learn how to make sushi. I cannot wait to discover the ingredients and processes of preparation which are not only highly technical, but deeply spiritual tool. Every moment of meal creation, and its eating, is a moment with meaning.
With this in mind, may each mile and mouthful you and I travel, may our journeys be safe, insightful, fulfilling, and of course, simply delicious.