According to a recent report released by global travel website TripAdvisor, the number of Indians travelling abroad went up by 21 per cent in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period last year. India’s domestic air traffic also grew by over 26 per cent in September compared to the same month last year, according to the latest data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).There is no doubt that Indians are travelling like never before, and vacations now mean much more than just spending time away from home. One trend that is getting people’s attention is foodcation.
"This is a new concept in travel, where food is the focus of the trip, and you get a closer glimpse of the local culture through the cuisine of the region," says Sudeepta Sanyal, co-founder, The Blueberry Trails.
He adds that it is not just about going and trying out local food, but also about participating in the process. "Learning how to cook the cuisine, visiting the local market or farmers’ markets to procure the produce, understanding the diet and connecting it with the geography and culture of the place — all of this encompasses a foodcation," he says.
According to travel companies, since people are increasingly planning their holidays to focus more on their interests, foodcations are gradually gaining popularity. Yogi Shah, co-founder of The Backpacker Co, explains, "This trend is growing because trying out different kind of food interests a lot of people. Also, since blogging has picked up in such a big way, it looks like experiential holidays are here to stay."
As far as the target age group is concerned, Karan Anand, head-relationships, Cox and Kings Ltd, reveals that age is no barrier. "We have travellers from 16 to 60 years," he says, adding, "Since such tour experiences include a combination of cooking demonstrations, visits to attractions covering food and wine as well as authentic cuisine preparations, it interests people across age brackets."
Foodcation destinations in India
Tea has many flavours in India.
Kerala: Apart from its beautiful backwaters, Kerala also offers a culinary vacation to remember. People can indulge in authentic forms of the idlis and dosas, and try out specialties like Madhura Kallu, Kerala pickles, Malabar Chicken Biryani, Mutton Paya Masala, etc.
Delhi: From Chandni Chowk’s Paranthewali Galli to Jama Masjid’s Kabab Lane, Delhi is known for great food.
Rajasthan: With an evolved tourism industry and a cuisine that offers a range of delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, the state has a lot to offer to foodies. Market walks are quite popular in different cities of the state — from Jaipur to Pushkar.
Jammu & Kashmir: The scenic beauty of the state attracts many to the valley, but the food that the state offers is another draw. From the Kashmiri Kahwa tea to the delicious Rogan Josh, the cuisine is a storehouse of spices.
Source: The Backpacker Co and The Blueberry Trails
A selection of sushi.
France: The country is famous for its wine and food. While France is home to several historical sites, food tours in Paris, wine tastings at châteaus in Burgundy, or cooking classes in Loire Valley are all here as well.
Italy: Several cities in the country offer food walks, cooking vacations and authentic food tastings. While the pastas and pizzas are famous, there is more to Italian cuisine, as people discover while exploring it.
Japan: If you love sushi, then this is the vacation for you. But don’t just eat it, learn how to prepare it and other Japanese delicacies.
Greece: Athens offers interesting culinary vacations. Sip the traditional Greek coffee or try out some Koulouria, a round-shaped sesame ring that is most famous in the Psiri area.
Vietnam: Visit the local farmers markets in Hanoi and head to Hoi An, where you can learn to procure fresh produce and get to know how to cook it.
Source: The Villa Escape, Cox & Kings Ltd Do's and don'ts
Papad ka shaak
If you can, travel around the city with a local chef, who can tell you the right places to visit.
Go with an open mind, and don’t stick to only safe options.
If possible, time your trip with local food festivals that are also fun to attend.
Sample fresh produce at the place, which will give you an insight into the cuisine and the ingredients used.
Finally, don’t be so involved in your pursuit of food that you ignore local sights completely.