If you’re worried that an international trip might cost too much, try the next best thing: a tour around the world in your own hometown. These food tours across the country bring international flavors to the table.
On Spice of Life’s Little India tour, guests will be immersed in Southeast Asian culture and cuisine, from trying on henna and saris to sampling Pakistani barbecue. A tour guide will lead you down Devon Avenue and educate you on why “Little India” is a bit of a misnomer, as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Somalia, and other Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries are represented in the neighborhood.
The lunchtime food samplings are so generous that you may end up skipping dinner, and in addition to food, the tour includes opportunities to support local businesses, like an Indian boutique and a spice store, and guides will also share the stories behind important architecture, historic landmarks, and religious sites.
Though you may be tempted to spend time in the heart of LA, go “off the beaten path” on the East LA Latin Flavors Tour. Tour guides will lead you through a busy mercadito, LA’s first tortilla factory (where you’ll sample salsas and guacamoles), and LA’s first birrieria. You’ll also take a short train ride to Mariachi Plaza, a historic site that celebrates mariachi music and the musicians who have been playing there since the 1930s.
All tastings—from Mexican iced chocolate to pan dulce to pupusas—are paired with testimonies from local merchants and restaurateurs, many who rely on coveted family recipes and share the community spirit of this hidden treasure of a neighborhood.
It’s no surprise that Miami is flavored by Latin American and Caribbean influences, and the Little Havana Food Tour offers a focused exploration of the city’s historic Cuban neighborhood. In just eight blocks, you’ll get to taste empanadas, mojitos, a café cubano, a Cuban sandwich, pastelitos, guarapo juice, and ice cream.
In addition to the food, you’ll get a lesson in culture and history by learning about Santeria, talking with artists who left their home country to start over in Florida, hearing stories from families who own local restaurants, listening to traditional Cuban music, and even watching a cigar-rolling demonstration.
While Boston might conjure up images of the Freedom Trail, the American Revolution, and seafood, taking the North End Little Italy Tour will allow you to experience one of the country’s oldest immigrant neighborhoods. As Yummy Walks puts it, the Italian eateries in this part of Boston “carefully maintain their deeply-rooted ties to Italian culture.” Along your “gentle stroll” you’ll get a chance to talk to the folks who run this establishments and aim to blend tradition with new flavors, even international ones. Enjoy coffee from a café established in 1932, brick oven pizza with an 80 year old recipe, cannolis from a bake shop, and, of course, pasta, learning along the way how Boston keeps its Italian food as authentic as possible.
The Big Apple is indeed a melting pot of nationalities and foodways, but if Chinese food is what you’re hoping to explore, look no further than this touring company’s Chinatown Tour, one that offers “a view of Chinatown you can’t find on your own.” Experts will lead you down side streets and to off the beaten path sights to help you learn about the culture, foodways, and history of the Western hemisphere’s most densely populated Chinese neighborhood. Instead of the 5-7 smaller tastings that you’ll find on most food tours, the Chinatown Tour features three seated tastings of Chinese and Malaysian food, during which you’ll learn about the intricate and revered etiquette practices that go along with enjoying these meals. Then, you’ll top it all off with a treat from a popular Chinatown bakery.
Enjoy “traveling abroad” during these stateside food tours, and come to appreciate the cultural diversity found in your own neighborhood.