How Secondary and Tertiary Destinations are Poised to Prosper
For the new food traveller, nothing quite scratches the itch better than your first trip to France or Italy. But after several trips to these countries, foodies start to yearn for something new and different. The occasional business trips to London, Singapore and New York give us some opportunity to try new food and beverage experiences, but typically trips like these are made for business and are not necessarily our first choice as food destinations. We still dream of cute cafés with outstanding views, the best locals-only restaurants and a new “undiscovered” beverage. These are the kinds of experiences that we tend to find on our own or via word-of-mouth from friends and family who we trust. Often this information does not filter down quickly enough, or more likely, our friends and family are not the same kinds of foodies that we are, and the traveling foodie is left to find new and exciting destinations on his or her own. That can take a very long time.
In the past few years, I have had the good fortune to be able to travel to dozens of countries. Recently I was in Poland for work, and I had absolutely no expectations as to what food and drink awaited me. I always go with an open mind and try not to have any expectations because unmet expectations are always met with disappointment. When I told friends that I was going to Poland, there were a few chuckles about vodka, kielbasa and pierogi. Of course those things are available if desired. But I found a new world of Polish food and drink that is on the verge of becoming one of the world’s most interesting “new” cuisines.
Some of the places I enjoyed were Mierzęcin Palace Wellness & Wine Resort, northwest of Poznan, in the western part of Poland. We toured the vineyards on this beautiful estate and then tasted its wines. That’s when I knew that Poland had something truly remarkable and yet to be discovered. The palace’s Chef Dawid Łagowski has not earned a Michelin star yet, but he is well on his way. I also visited Folwark Wąsowo, an organic farm with meeting space. Lunch was simply outstanding, with products that were either grown or produced on the farm or nearby farms. This is just one example of a food and drink experience that is flying under the radar for visitors to Poland.
Poland is just one example of an emerging food destination with serious potential. A couple of years ago I visited Ecuador and was similarly amazed by the country’s jams, teas, chocolate, coffee, fruit and herbs – very basic products, all of outstanding quality. As for Ecuadorian cuisine, soups, grains like quinoa and potatoes are heavily featured. There are as many as 800 different kinds of potatoes in the Andes Mountains. We in North America and Europe tend to only see two or three kinds of potatoes. I never knew a potato could taste so amazing. The Ecuadorian people are so humble; they almost don’t seem to know what all they have. It is truly one of the world’s best kept foodie secrets (well, no more, now that I’ve said it).
I also recently visited Peru. Some of the dishes there were reminiscent of Ecuadorian cuisine, with the similar influence on soups, quinoa and potatoes. Probably the best black olives I’ve ever tasted were in Peru. I hear it’s because their olives have the highest acid of any in the world. Whatever the reason, they added an amazing flavour to many of the dishes I tried. And of course there are plenty of fine dining establishments that showcase true culinary innovation. Good food and drink seem to permeate every aspect of Peruvian society. While Peru may not be a rich country, its people are happy going to bed every night knowing that they have eaten well with the local products that nature has made available to them.
A couple of years ago, we had a work assignment in Jordan. Some of the best meat I’ve ever tasted in my life was in Jordan. And I remember a falafel from a street vendor that was probably the freshest most flavourful one I’ve ever enjoyed. We went to a cooking class near Petra and I learned how to make some classic Jordanian dishes. Many people are scared to visit Jordan because of the unrest in the Middle East, and that’s understandable. However, for something new and even exotic, a trip to Jordan for the food and drink would certainly hit the mark.
What other places could emerge as the world’s next exciting foodie destinations? Everyone has their favourite “undiscovered” places, so choosing one over another is nearly impossible and always subject to personal preferences. Immigrants from many destinations have brought previews of their food and drink to the new countries that they now call home. Perhaps a better question to ask is, what cuisines am I most looking forward to trying next? That’s an easy list. I’m looking forward to the day when my travels take me to Turkey, Iran, Armenia, India and Nepal. And someone told me that Costa Rican coffee is the best in the world. I’ll have to find out soon. Ecuador and Peru were already doing pretty well in that category. Still, none of these destinations are what analysts would call “primary”. As people tire of crowded sites in big or famous cities, secondary and tertiary destinations like these are poised to skyrocket in popularity. Think: more authenticity (usually), shorter queues and lower costs.
Travellers can find great food and drink all over our planet. Some destinations are more ready than others to package and promote their food and drink for visitors to enjoy. Sometimes food and beverage businesses need extra training to understand how to woo food travellers to their destination. Other times, the tourism office needs a boost to understand why it needs to invest in promoting the area’s food and drink.
There are many secondary and tertiary destinations with exciting food and drink to uncover. That’s one of the exciting things about being a foodie who travels. We are inherently explorers, and our next great meal is only a short jaunt away.
Erik Wolf will be Speaking at WTM London 2016 on the 8th of November from 1:30- 2:30. Find out more here.