I traveled to San Francisco recently for a conference – Visit California’s Outlook Forum – a kind of “state of the state” chronicling tourism in the Golden State. As with any business travel, I did some cursory online research and quickly booked plane tickets, hotel, even dashed to the mall for a new outfit. What took me the longest in my planning process? Dinner reservations of course.
Sharr Prohaska, a professor of Hospitality, Tourism & Sports Management at NYU, recently contributed a concise little article to Huffington Post about the state of Culinary Tourism. While not revealing much beyond the fact that we’d soon be seeing the results from a new Culinary Tourism research study (courtesy of The World Food Travel Association), she hypothesized about who culinary tourists actually were:
“Are the culinary tourists really the Explorers who are always looking for something new to experience, the Baby Boomers who are seeking and educational or interactive experience, or many of the Millennial who have traveled since they were young and been exposed to exotic foods from around the world and are no longer content with a hamburger?”
Sure. All of the above. But there are hoards of us that squeak in between those categories on a daily basis. We’re the people who, despite whatever work or professional callings may lead us through our lives, food and the experiences that come with it, temper everything we do.
That’s why, long before I knew what time I’d have to leave for the airport or where I’d be telling my shuttle driver to take me, I knew where I’d be eating (Bar Tartine), what dishes I’d likely be ordering (potato flat bread, green chile fisherman’s stew and farmer’s cheese dumplings) and what others had to say about them (“as good as it gets” and on and on…). I’d seen photos, read maddeningly descriptive reviews and felt like I had an insider’s perspective–all without ever having ever been there before.
The best possible kind of armchair travel these days is spent building your travel plans, one meal, snack or beverage at a time. Surfing has never tasted so good.