Traveling in search of regional flavors is already a ritualistic maxim for the modern tourist. It’s gone the time when a visitor would go to Salvador and not taste a “hot” acarajé: with vatapá, caruru and dried shrimp; freshly fried like the baianas do, or try tacacá in Belém, Amazon’s gastronomic capital highlighted by Unesco. Visiting Mercadão de São Paulo just to eat: mortadella sandwiches, codfish pastry, giblets, exotic fruits or Arab desserts. The foreigner who visits Campo Grande, capital of Mato Grosso do Sul and does not enjoy one of the dozens of stalls at Feira Central in search of the perfect Sobá or the triad: skewer, manioc and soy sauce (yes, the mixture of Japan and Brazil provokes this curious and delicious local fusion). Or even visit the “paneleiras de Goiabeiras” in Vitória, Espírito Santo to take the clay pot, an ingredient that is not consumed in the dish but is a “sine qua non” condition for making and tasting the real stew, according to the capixabas.
Shrimp from Rio Grande do Norte; mate with gaúchos in the fresh mornings of the South region. Simple coconut water or the sweetest açaí from Rio’s beaches. The back and sequence of shrimp in floripa. The cocoa in ilhéus, the historic coffee farms of the alterosas mineiras. The river fish from the paths of central plateau, the feijoada from Pernambuco finished off with topper d’O Leite (Brazil’s oldest restaurant, based in Recife). The tapioqueiras of Olinda, the greengrocers and alfenins of Pirenópolis, the pie from Goiás… Live to eat! It is a fact: people no longer eat to live. Of course, the line of places to visit is long, and I only listed tasty points of the Tupiniquim cuisine, but today the cuisine goes from supporting to main dish. With all the flavor of puns, there are more and more tourism groups dedicated to consciously and sustainably explore the flavors and commensality of each location.
There are no more trips, packages, or even the travel plan that does not combine comfort, incredible places, and each place’s one cuisine.
Hospitality in tourism today combined with gastronomy replaces the photo album of the past. Take a good look at the potential of this, a guy visits Thailand, learns to make the spicy Pad Thai paste, or he went to Lima in Peru and had the opportunity to visit restaurants that serve ceviche, eats it with choro pan on Avenida “Costanera” in Buenos Aires and when returns home, he replicates these recipes for his friends. And then that very ritualistic habit of calling friends and family to tell stories of the “trips”, showing photos developed in negative or even in slides (a memory that reveals a past unknown to millennials and the Internet generation), is increasingly replaced by ritual of commensality in the gourmet kitchens of the condominium members and elite buildings or in the kitchen pantry of the most humble traveler. And the photos? These were posted and published in real time, stamped on the virtual albums on the digital shelves. From latest generation cell phones to low definition lenses of more modest devices. Gastronomy is democratized.
The key strength of gastronomic expeditions lies in this scenario of fetishism for the repetition of a tasted dish, with the idea of transferring the memory of those delicious flavors. And for those who don’t dare to cook, bringing sweets, wines, sausages, cheeses, sauces, olive oils, chocolates (wow, the line is huge) home is an obligation to show the landmark of that destination. “Checked!”
The impact left by the visitor is an inevitable condition for strengthening traditions, identity recognition, preference for local products and encouragement for small producers and artisans of traditional cuisine. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the tasting journey era. “Let’s” try it?!
The opinions expressed in this text are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the position of WTM Latin America.