It’s a fact that while most of us struggle to remember the exhibits, monuments, and landmarks that spurred our travels, there are those life-altering, quasi-religious culinary experiences that remain etched in the memory bank for life. As most European gourmands will declare, it’s not generally the Michelin-starred haute cuisine with the vertiginous price tag that stimulates those food epiphanies that feel almost like an erotic pleasure. More likely, it’s that wild boar faithfully cooked according to a century old recipe in a rustic tavern in that hilltop village somewhere between Florence and Siena, or a sample of bulbous snails, or a rosette de Lyon sausage in Lyon’s spectacular food market.
Since the turn of the new millennium, culinary travel has grown exponentially. As food has become an art form and the term ‘foodie’ has entered the lexicon as a person who has turned their passion for fine food into a very civilized hobby that they like to talk about (a lot), our new, improved relationship with food increasingly dictates how and why we travel. While the mega cities — London, Paris, New York, Tokyo — combine celebrity chefs with multiculturalism to create dynamic international flair with a flashy soundbite, that elusive ecstasy of flavor and taste lies beyond the gastronomic powerhouses in the local taverns and bistros where menus are defined by what’s fresh and what speaks to the region’s cultural heritage.