Whether it’s sipping ginger-infused cocktails in Mexico or savoring deep-fried pork dumplings in Shanghai, food connects us to places and cultures. A bite of cuisine is like learning a new language, and it can tell you a lot about a culture.
Consumers with a taste for adventure seek gastronomic experiences that entertain multiple senses at once.
1. Foraging in the Amazon
A growing number of adventurous travelers are looking for culinary experiences that entertain multiple senses at once. Whether by exploring a local food market or taking a cooking class, these experiences can provide insight into a destination’s culture.
The Amazon rainforest is home to exotic fruits such as sapote and guanabana, both of which can be found on tours at rainforest lodges like Tahuayo Lodge in Northern Peru. Those seeking an extra thrill can also try fishing for piranha, a fish so sharp it’s been used by different indigenous groups in the Amazon as scissors to cut their hair.
Intrepid Travel offers a range of journeys that combine a culinary aspect with adventure travel, including its Real Food Adventures and Bite-Sized Breaks. The company has recently added a few new tours that offer the perfect blend of food and exploration, such as Slovenia and Croatia or Montenegro and Macedonia.
2. Foraging in the Andes
Cuy (pronounced coo-ee) is perhaps Peru’s most exotic cuisine. While most of the world domesticates guinea pigs as household pets, residents of the Peruvian Andes consume them at breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a hearty main dish or a quick drive-by snack. It can be fried or oven-roasted and is typically served in small skewers, known as anticuchos.
The book “Food, Power and Resistance in the Andes” is an engaging exploration of artistic representations that demonstrate how cooking often serves as a means for Indigenous Andeans—especially Quechua women—to negotiate their access to political power. Using various genres including literature, Quechua oral narrative, historical chronicles, testimonies, and food and art forms, the authors present how artistic representations of culinary practice reveal how Andean cooks use foods and cooking to resist attempts to silence their desires, values, and cultural expressions. This is an excellent resource for those interested in Andean Studies and Food Studies.
3. Cooking with Locals
Cooking with locals is one of the most immersive ways to connect with a destination’s culture. Whether you’re sipping a hibiscus cocktail with a Thai family in Bangkok or sitting on a plastic stool slurping pho bo with the folks next to you in Hanoi, food brings people together and creates lasting memories.
Today’s travelers want more than just flavor in their dishes – they want the story behind those flavors, too. They appreciate the cultural significance of ingredients and are drawn to dishes that fuse heritage cooking styles.
Embark on a culinary adventure of your own. Whether you’re craving street fare in Bangkok or home cooking with a family in rural Thailand, Rebecca Adventure Travel has an experience to suit your palate. Our small group off the beaten path tours and real food adventures are made with responsible tourism in mind, so your travel dollars stay in the community where you visit. Book a Real Food Adventure or Bite-size Break today.
4. Foraging in New Mexico
Foraging is arguably the earliest and most natural way to gather edibles in human evolution. Chances are, you’ve done it before without even realizing it: Picking berries from a park or snipping herbs from the garden at home are both instances of foraging.
Mushroom foraging in New Mexico is a fun, healthy way to spend time outside while also acquiring the skills to prepare delicious food. New Mexico’s mountains and forests offer a wide range of mushrooms, from the toxic fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) to the delectable chanterelle, oyster mushroom, and boletes.
In addition to learning how to identify the various species, you’ll get to know local chefs, foragers, and other like-minded folks who share your passion for a sustainable lifestyle. A great experience to have is at Jemez Pueblo’s Dryland Wilds, a women-led business that harvests, distills, and produces a line of products from foraged ingredients on the pueblo. Their goal is to bring wild, plant-based foods back into rural communities where they’re sorely lacking.