Today we have a real treat for all our adventurous foodie readers. Our newest Friend of MTF, Jenna Berndt shares her delicious foodie destinations for 2020.
There is no better way to immerse yourself fully into the culture and heritage of a new destination than by tasting your way through it. The popularity of culinary travel continues to rise at a rapid rate.
A recent Technavio report indicates that globally, culinary travel is expected to grow by 82 billion USD between 2019 and 2023. This is a huge slice of the tourism pie.
These hot 2020 destinations are bursting with flavour, and are perfect for every foodie traveller:
Turkey is, for want of a better word, a foodie’s delight.
“Our Turkey trips sell like hotcakes,” says Teresa Richardson, Managing Director of The Travel Corporation in South Africa, which operates guided holiday brands Trafalgar and Costsaver. “The cuisine is a large part of this, offering something to appeal to every palate. Of course Turkey is incredibly easy to access from South Africa, and also rand-friendly.”
With its rich cultural heritage of Eastern and Western influences, Turkey’s cuisine is as imaginative as it is diverse. Be brave and sip the rich Turkish coffee, or nibble on warm sesame-encrusted simit bread fresh out of the oven, pide (a Turkish flat bread of sorts), syrupy Baklava and more.
Don’t leave without trying: Maraş dondurma – the local ice cream served from vendors on the street that’s a bit different from what we’re used to. The ice cream is worth it for the show alone!
Morocco combines Mediterranean influences from Spain with Arab and Berber influences to create a delicious melting pot of cuisines.
Moroccan tagines simmer for hours in their traditional cone-shaped earthenware pots, creating fall-off-the-bone, juicy lamb or chicken stews, flavoured with various spices, chickpeas, raisins and fluffy couscous on the side.
Don’t leave without trying: Moroccan mint tea – although you couldn’t escape this one even if you tried (but why would you want to?). Moroccan people show their hospitality through their cuisine. Expect to be welcomed into homes and shops time and time again with very sweet mint tea, and don’t refuse a second glass if offered!
Portugal is not only one of 2020’s trending favourites for South Africans, and one of Europe’s most sustainable destinations to boot, but it is packed with enough delicious culinary experiences to tempt any foodie to return time and time again.
If you’re heading into the scenic UNESCO Douro River Valley, stop in Porto for some of their world-renowned port, which pairs beautifully with local Portuguese dishes. Tripe is popular if you’re brave enough – or pop into one of the many markets for cheese, wine, olives and chouriço sausages.
One can visit Italy for months and still not eat your way through all the local, regional and national specialities. Moreish gelato and pizza aside, 2020 will see travellers prioritising off the beaten track local culinary experiences, far away from the tourist hotspots.
Toast the good life with a chilled glass of local limoncello in Sorrento.The sweet and sugary drink is a perfect thirst quencher (and energy boost) at any time of the day, although traditionally it’s enjoyed as a digestif after a meal.
“Meet the locals that have been proudly producing this famous drink on one of Trafalgar’s Be My Guest experiences,” says Richardson. “Ten years ago, the Esposito sisters welcomed Trafalgar guests into their home for a traditional, home-cooked meal and of course, some limoncello. This was the very first Be My Guest experience, taking guests into a local home to dine with them. Travellers consistently rate this experience as the highlight of their whole trip.”
Today, Trafalgar offers Be My Guest experiences on their itineraries across the globe.
Don’t leave without trying: Olive oil tasting in Tuscany. Foodies will love getting to experience what real olive oil should taste like, and how this golden nectar and kitchen staple is cultivated in the endless golden fields of Tuscany.
In Spain, food isn’t something you look for three times a day when you’re feeling peckish. Sangria, tapas and more are integral to the Spanish culture and lifestyle.
Enjoy long leisurely lunches in the sunshine, olive oil tasting in Seville (visit a local farm for an authentic ‘meet the locals’ experience) and try Tortilla Española, Patatas Bravas, Chocolate Caliente and Jamón Ibérico.
Don’t leave without trying: The delicious local bubbly, Cava. Journey to Freixenet Wineries in Catalonia, one of Spain’s famous wine-producing regions. Here you can toast to your travelling adventures with the magnificent sparkling bubbly and learn about the wine production first-hand.
No culinary-inspired list would be complete without including the South-East Asian favourite, Thailand.
“Not only is Thailand one of the most affordable overseas destinations for South Africans, but it’s filled with experiences to delight the foodies,” says Sue Garrett, GM of Marketing and Product at the Flight Centre Travel Group.
“Thailand is filled with amazing markets set up with fresh food stalls. Think fruit smoothies, mango sticky rice, pad thai, papaya salads, massaman curries, as well as many others you may not have tasted before. For health-conscious travellers, there are many healthy and fresh options. Thailand boasts some of the best street food in the world, so even if you’re not a foodie, this is a must do-experience.”
Colombia is on the hot list for 2020 travel.
Juilian Guerrero, Colombian Minister of Tourism, said that South African travellers are assured of a warm welcome in the country.
“Colombians are joyful, fun, and eager to show everyone their nature,” he says.
“South African travellers can also expect nature to be present in every stage of the itinerary because it is integrated in the urban areas of destinations and this creates a sense of wellness. Colombia is a very diverse country with different landscapes, flavours, weather and rhythms.
This off the beaten track destination, for South Africans at least, is not only filled with amazing nature, wildlife and heritage, but boasts a burgeoning culinary scene.
Expect exotic fruit, much of which you may genuinely have never seen before, fresh produce and meals with a strong Spanish influence. There is excellent street food, and in Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena, award-winning restaurants are putting Colombia on the culinary map! Visit Popayán in the west of the country. It has been named a UNESCO ‘City of Gastronomy.’
Travellers in need of a caffeine rush should make a beeline for Colombia’s Coffee Triangle. Visit a coffee plantation (some of the best in the world), enjoy tastings and tours and meet the local farmers to learn how this little bean become so famous.
Don’t leave without trying: Traditional dishes such as carantanta, empanadas and tamales de pipian.