The longing to indulge in the enticing flavours and irresistible aromas emanating from the myriad cooking styles and authentic traditions of different regions in the Balkans has catapulted culinary travel to one of the most popular types of holidays.
Culinary tourism offers a cornucopia of benefits to visitors and host communities alike. Culinary travel features local produce, respects traditional knowledge, protects cultural identity and heritage, and supports organic farming as well as agritourism. It deepens cross-cultural understanding of regional lifestyles and offers a unique insight into a community’s view of the world. This type of travel is highly valued by tourists as it allows visitors time to relax and appreciate the local gastronomy, while sharing enlightening conversation with others and drinking in the surrounding natural beauty.
Visitors are not the only important beneficiaries of culinary tourism. Culinary travel also improves regional employment sustainability as well as rural economic diversification, especially in outlying areas that might otherwise be overlooked by visitors. This benefit not only facilitates the distribution of tourism expenditures directly to the inhabitants of outlying regions hosting culinary tourism, but it also ensures the long term preservation of those idyllic features of countryside living much sought after, especially by tourists from bustling urban areas. Equally as important, culinary travel helps to ensure the continued cultivation of specialised traditional and authentic food sources that might otherwise disappear due to the lack of profitability in cultivating food that is not mass produced on an industrial scale. And food producers need economic assurance of their future which culinary travel can provide.
To everyone around the world, favoured dishes have the power to evoke sentiments often associated with our childhood, family, ethnicity, education, nationality, philosophy, travels, religion and aspirations, all the while revealing who we are, from where we come and what we supremely enjoy.
It is, therefore, not surprising that culinary travel in the Balkans, which heralds the art of dining pleasure, embraces a variety of mouth-watering activities for the sweet and savoury tasting as well as enjoyment of visitors, such as traditional regional cooking classes, wine-tasting and vineyard excursions, food festivals, visits to farmers’ markets, and tours that showcase organic farms along with tempting samples of their authentic produce.
Henry Miller (1891-1980) once said that one’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of seeing things. Exploring regional culture through food is a travel adventure that can awaken our senses and open our eyes to unforgettable discoveries which, in the end, may give rise to a greater understanding and thus an enlightened view of the incredible world in which we live.