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Culinary adventures in South America


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Everybody loves to travel. Getting away is an excellent way of disconnecting from the daily routine, and opening one’s mind to diverse experiences in an unusual cultural setting.

There are many ways to explore exciting new destinations, and the most common touristic activities include strolling through commercial areas, visiting museums, and seeing the local sights. Having decided to visit a city, most people head online to find out where to go and start booking activities specially designed for tourists, providing them with a particular insight into the city or town they are set to visit.

In most cases, though, typical touristic activities say very little about the culture of each destination. As a result, many travelers are looking to change how they relate to the city or town they visit.

A new way of traveling

This new type of traveler seeks to get in touch with locals, learn their language, sample their cuisine, and take part in their holidays and celebrations.

Food tourism is one of the main trends associated with this new way of traveling. By tasting local dishes and drinks, and learning about their origins, ingredients and cooking techniques, visitors can gain an unmatched insight into the local community. Food tourism activities allow visitors to enjoy exquisite meals while learning about the history of their surroundings. And in some cases they are combined with cooking classes, in which participants can learn how to cook local meals.

Food tourism is on the rise

The World Tourism Organization defines food tourism as “a type of tourism activity which is characterized by the visitor’s experience linked with food and related products and activities while traveling”.

A food tour can mean tasting local dishes, visiting producers, going to food-related festivals and taking cooking classes.

Food tourism - also known as gastronomic or culinary tourism - can also been defined as “the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place”; in other words, you can learn a great deal about a culture by sampling its typical dishes, learning about the most common ingredients, and taking part in the preparation of local meals.

Eating and traveling are two enjoyable activities, so it comes as no surprise that food tourism is on the rise, boosting local economies by attracting people from all over the world in search of a taste of new and unusual flavours.

According to the Imarc website, the world culinary tourism market was valued at almost US$ 670 billion in 2021, and is expected to reach nearly US$ 1800 billion by 2027, more than doubling its current value over the next six years.

Social media is believed to have had a significant impact on the rise of the food tourism market, by creating a market of food bloggers, reviews, booking apps and other services that let customers access accurate information about where and what to eat, clearly and efficiently.

The most fantastic food tours in South America

Every location has culinary traditions which are worth learning about, but some food tours have gained a particular level of popularity among curious travelers. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the food tours which you shouldn’t miss if you are traveling through South America.

  • Lima, Peru

Lima is the largest city in Peru, as well as the country’s capital. Located in the Chillón valley facing the Pacific Ocean, its geography is characterized by surrounding deserts.

The city has a population of almost 10 million inhabitants, making it one of the largest metropolises in South America.

Over time, Lima has become a booming tourist destination. The city’s highlights include its archeological centers, museums, historic center, and popular traditions. The Historic Centre of Lima was declared by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site, and represents city life in colonial times to this day.

Peruvian food is influenced by the country’s proximity to the ocean, and its blend of native cultures and Spanish conquistadores influences.

Coffee is definitely a local highlight, and it’s worth visiting the city’s many tostadurias to learn about how the beans are treated to yield the most high-quality infusions possible.

Ceviche is also a must-try delicacy when visiting Peru. There are many versions of ceviche, but the traditional Peruvian recipe combines lemon-cooked fish with onion, corn, potato, lettuce, red chili, and pepper.

Causa rellena is another fantastic local dish made from red chili, lemon, avocado, shrimp, and mashed potato with a tartar sauce.

  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Known as “Cidade Maravilhosa”, or the “Wonderful City”, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most amazing places in South America and the world.

It is also the most visited city in Latin America, with its Carnival, music and beaches attracting millions of people from all over the world.

Founded in 1565 by Portuguese colonizers, Rio de Janeiro is currently one of the most populated cities in the Americas, with almost 7 million inhabitants and 11 and a half million people living within the metropolitan area according to the most recent census.

Rio de Janeiro is one of Brazil and Latin America’s major tourist attractions, and welcomes around 3 million international visitors every year. As you’d expect, the city is packed with touristic activities.

Rio has plenty to offer gastronomic enthusiasts, from unique and exotic fruits to freshwater fish like the peixe nobre, pirarucu, surubim, jaraqui, acari, and tambaqui.

As we have seen, there are many different ways to explore unfamiliar places and cultures, but taking a food tour is among the most pleasant and authentic ways to gain insight into a new destination. By tasting typical dishes and finding out where they come from, how they are cooked and which local ingredients are used, visitors are able to access vital information about a new cultures.

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