Understanding a city’s ethos to its food is a great idea and the best way to do this is through guided food walks.
If you love food and love travelling, there is a way you can get the best of both these worlds. Well, simply hop on to a food walk that is catching the attention of the new age traveler in a big way. So much so that even hotels are taking cognizant of this trend and are organizing special trails for their guests. And guided food walks are evolving as well.
According to a recent study by Tripadvisor, about 73% people planned getaways to destinations specifically to try local food in 2018. New age food walks are the ones less superficial and more authentic, involving people travelling to the native places where local cuisines originate from. “A trip to Mandawa to sample local Rajasthani cuisine, a village lunch experience at the coastal city of Kashid near Alibaug to experience authentic Konkani dishes are some of the examples of what new age food tours entail,” says Aditi Balbir, Founder and CEO, V Resorts. Food Walks offer an enriching window to explore a destination through its distinct cuisine. The guided walks involve brief talks by food experts interspersed with tasting and eating sessions. Praveen Singh, Cofounder, Bangalore Tours and More explains, “Bangalore is a melting pot of cultures, a settler town from its very inception. Food as varied as liver on toast to meats and kababs; mutton chops with finger millet balls to melt in the mouth to mesmerising kulfis are part of the walk. Vegetarians have south Indian Thali, Masala Dosa, idllis, Karabath and more.”
If you have the quest of knowing any city the best way is to explore its food legacy hidden in its bylanes. From hip bars to cool bars, from fine dines to street food, new age food walks cut across all. “Generally each city has its own food walks and various folks organise it. The group leader spells out the path at the starting point and each pay for what they eat. It could be from bar to bar hoping around or from a fancy restaurant to the streets. It is fun, you get to meet new people and worth the experience,” says Dharmesh Karmokar, Partner, Thangabali & Duma Dum Mast Kalandar. Likewise, the city of Hyderabad has a rich legacy of food hidden in several parts of the old city and some of these hidden gems are found only during the holy month of Ramadan. “While the culinary team was researching to curate a perfect experience of the Ramadan festivities in the by lanes of Charminar, they were inspired to create a Hyderabadi Special themed dinner. This comprises of a modern take on traditional Hyderabadi dishes along with a few traditional delicacies so now one does not have to wait for the holy month of Ramadan to relish favourites like Haleem, paya shorba, khubani and the like,” says Ravi Khubchandani, General Manager, Novotel Hyderabad Airport. The hotel now plans to make this an annual affair and is working on fine tuning the experience to offer a customised guest experience.
Did you know that it was the Portuguese that introduced chillies to India? Do you know why the Monsoon Malabar Coffee gets its name from? Or who invented the famed sweet Mysore Pak? Well, a food walk is also a way to find out about all of this. Vinay Parameswarappa, Founder, Gully Tours who conducts walks in Mysore, Bengaluru, Kochi and Coorg says, “we do food walks at iconic eateries as well as culinary tours where we cook with local families making traditional dishes like say in Mysore we make a Mysore Masala Dosa, in Coorg we make Pandi curry.” Incidentally Gully Tours has now taken upon them to tell guests the story behind the food. They take you through nuances like how the famed Nanjangud banana that has a GI tag has a taste that depends on the weather conditions, pretty much like wine. You can also go on a trail where to eat Breudher Bread in Fort Kochi at the only bakery that makes it every Saturday and learn about its Dutch connection. Rohan Prakash, Business Head, Trip 360 avers, “given the demand is on rise for discoveries of old recipes, the new age food walk is all about the forgotten flavours and cuisines. There is a story behind every food in the city, the walk enables the participants to delve in its history.”
New age food walks is all about being experimental and getting into the skin of the local cuisine. Heena Akhtar, Co-Founder of tripXOXO opines, “with the onset of the trend of ‘living like a local’, the food trails have become an important part of experiencing the culture and local flavours of the place. Today travelers are choosing for a food walk above buffet in a five star or any restaurant. Travelers are indulging in experimenting with various community food on the streets of several cities across the country.” Anubhav Sapra, Founder, Delhi Food Walks who has been conducting food walks in Delhi for over 8 years and have over 15 experiences says, “We have started a vegan food tour where we have shortlisted six places where vegan food can be sampled. All tours are usually customized based on the guest requirement. For instance some clients need gluten free food or have allergies that need to be addressed. We also have a cooking workshop where we buy ingredients from a local market and is cooked at home which is shared with guests.” They have recently started ‘A Day in Delhi’ that focuses on food and culture where food changes from one location to the other and showcases different cuisines. With so many tales and twists, food just got a juicy makeover and it’s for you to experience it firsthand.
This story first appeared in The Tribune dated 23rd Dec 2018 here: