TOURIST OF TASTE

THE WORST TOURIST IS  A TINY ONE

During the off-season, invading armies of visitors withdraw from the museums and  galleries of Europe to be replaced by assault  squads of  schoolchildren. I find them more alarming than bag snatchers.  They knock people over and make a great deal of noise. Cartoon,Blackbird,Currowong&Goose 001They often appear more interested in inflicting grevious bodily harm on each other than in viewing the exhibits. However, I’m sure their teachers and parents hope that the legacy of these excursions will be a lifelong appreciation of  art, and culture in general.

To be fair, jealousy may have  jaundiced  my view of the little  wretches. My own school excursions were a good deal  more mundane. I was brought up in a small rural   town in Tasmania. In grade one my classmates and I held hands with a partner and trooped off  to visit Ray’s Bakery.  At the impressionable age of six, the  smell of baking bread seeped into my soul. The result is that my overseas travels tend to become pilgrimages to the bakeries and cake shops of  the world.

The Ulverstone bakery around the time of my school visit in 1957.

The Ulverstone bakery around the time of my school visit in 1957.

I may be a little shaky on where to find  the best example of post-modernist portraiture or abstract expressionism, but I can tell you where to find  the best flapjack in the UK.  And yes, the statue of David is a feast for the eyes, but so is a well constructed Italian pizza.

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As if to reinforce my destiny as a food tourist, the  only other school excursion  I can remember was  to the local bacon factory.

The bacon factory; perfect outing for six year olds.

The old bacon factory; a slightly strange  destination for six year old kids.

Cultural pursuits are top of the list for most tourists in Paris  (including me),  but remember; it is not obligatory to spend one’s entire visit  in the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay.  Why gaze in frustration at the goodies in  a Dutch Renaissance still life when you can exchange your euros  for the real thing at Fauchon, in the Place de la Madeleine? Food presentation in this famous store has been elevated to an art form, with masterpieces of  gastronomy  that will blow your mind.

fauchon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please don’t think  I am a total Philistine.  During a week in New York I  could have maxed out  my  credit cards on Fifth Avenue or sought out  the Big Apple’s most delicious bagel. Instead, I spent many hours at the Frick Collection, and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Unfortunately,  just days after I returned home the fine detail of the El Grecos and the Rembrandts began to blur. Meanwhile,  the blissful memory of  hot pastrami on rye eaten in Central  Park  remained as sharp  as ever.

pastrami sandwich rye bread

Travellers often complain of art gallery fatigue, but being a food tourist is far more taxing. For one thing, the hours are longer. In New Orleans  the Museum of  Art closes at 5.00pm, but you can eat  heavenly beignets  at the  Cafe du Monde twenty fours hours a day.  Now there is  a serious risk involved in  this.  I was once  scoffing  beignets  in mindless gluttony when I   inhaled a disabling lungful of powdered sugar.  Do  they deliberately  pile on the sugar so that  victims have to wash it down with more chicory flavoured coffee?

Is all that icing sugar really necessary??

Is all that  sugar really necessary??

TOO POOR TO PARTAKE

On the positive side,  sampling bakery goods on an international scale is   easier on the pocket than completing a tour of Michelen starred restaurants. Mind you, even this is beyond the  reach of  the  impoverished student tourist.  On a recent visit to the  UK  I met  some  young Aussie  backpackers  who were existing on one minute noodles and baked beans. Although  almost swooning every time they passed a bakery, all they could do was  press sad little faces against the window.  Fortunately there was some joy in their lives. They told me they had become addicted to jam doughnuts from a Northern supermarket chain – a  steal at a pound for a packet of ten. According to the girls the doughnuts were  ‘absolutely wicked‘.

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In the interest of research I made it my business to sample some of these doughnuts and I agree, they are truly wicked. However, before you set off on a pilgrimage to Manchester and beyond, I should point out that the word has an entirely  different meaning in my vocabulary.

 

 

 

Are you a food tourist dear reader? And if so, what is your greatest weakness? You can leave a comment in the box below. Complete the little anti-spam sum before pressing ‘SUBMIT’ or it will disappear into the ether.

7 Comments
  1. Yoghurt: on a boat on the Bosphorus, and the kind sold in little pots on the streets in China.

  2. Fried whitebait in newspaper bought from a roadside seller between Lagos and Ibadan.

    • Pauline

      Roadside food is always delicious, Sabina. I remember buying jelly like, boiled peanuts in central Florida. I think they called them Pinders.

  3. Love this post! I often go on food tours when I’m in a new city. There’s a great one in Honolulu that takes you into Chinatown.

  4. Now I’m hungry 🙂

  5. Oh, yes!
    While I don’t travel specifically for food, I do enjoy the local fare when I’m onbthevoad or abroad. I make it a point to never estate chain restaurants and to ask the locals where they would go for a meal. Sometimes I’ll scan the Atlas Obscura website for interesting eateries they’ve come across. Sometimes it’s more of a random, let’s try this place today.

    No matter how I choose my next meal, I have not been disapointed once.
    #TravellingFoodie

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