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Drinks and food are no less attractive for tourists as shopping, museums and sports. A delicious dinner can be just as memorable as the greatest monuments of the world. “Food is the quintessence of a nation, its mentality and history,” says the manifesto of the International Culinary Tourism Association. Solo or in a company of friends, for a long time or a short time - the choise is yours
“Custom-made” gastronomic tours are extremely popular in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. Special travel agencies, such as Gourmet On Tour, The International Kitchen or Gourmet Getaways, are majoring in trips and routes based on food. They can take you to the best restaurants or culinary schools and even gastronomic festivals serving local delicacies and drinks. The choice of culinary tours proposed by Ukrainian travel agencies is scarce and they are usually very expensive and specific. There are more people eager to spend EUR 4,500 for two and a half day of wine tasting in Burgundy or EUR 1,200 for a one-day culinary master class at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Paris.
Extroverts preferring noisy collective entertainment will definitely like major gastronomic festivals attracting thousands of tourists. Among the most celebrated are the Cavaillon Melon Festival in France in July and Tomatina in Spain in August.
Melon de Cavaillon
Melon Festival in Cavaillon, France, July 10 – 14
A small town in Provence is annually a place of interest for crowds of tourists willing to take part in celebrating a three-day festival of events marking the season’s first harvest of local melons, the main agricultural product in Cavaillon and French national heritage. Cavaillon is the main melon caterer in the country.
The festival’s program includes parades, tasting ceremonies, a contest for the best melon recipes, marches of street orchestras and bull fights. The admission fee to a festive picnic traditionally held in the park by the local equestrian racetrack is EUR 20. The last day begins with a ceremonial melon mass. Then Knights of the Order of the Melon are elected and everyone is welcome to participate in the grand dinner for EUR 20. The petanque championship is the grande finale of the festival.
Tomato fight in Bunol, Spain,
La Tomatina is a food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August each year in the town of Bunol in the Valencia region of Spain. Participants throw tens of metric tons of over-ripened tomatoes at one another in the streets of the city for an hour. The week-long festival features music, parades, dancing, and fireworks. On the night before, participants of the festival compete in a paella cooking contest. It is traditional for the women to wear all white and the men to wear no shirts.
The tomato fight has been a strong tradition in Bunol since 1944 or 1945. No one is completely certain how this event originated. One of the most popular theories is that disgruntled townspeople attacked city councilmen with tomatoes during a town celebration. Whatever happened to begin the tradition, it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated the next year, the year after and so on to this very day. Approximately 20,000–50,000 tourists come to witness this grandiose tomato fight in which approximately 150,000 tomatoes are thrown. La Tomatina is finished with swimming in a pool filled with tomato juice and drawing the legendary Iberian hammon.
A beautiful and organic way to get a closer look at authentic cuisine is diving into the local color for at least one month. Italy is a perfect destination for such experiments, where every village has numerous gastronomic festivals and their total number is countless.
Here is the July program for culinary events in the smallest Italian region – picturesque Aosta Valley. The roasted suckling pig festival will take place in Issogne on July 11 – 12, the game festival will be held in Saint Nicolas on July 18 – 20 and the Exposition du Jambon de Bosses Fair dedicated to dried ham will take place in Bosses on July 11 – 13.
On July 20 in Perloz you can visit a rye bread holiday, where loaves of bread baked in wood stoves are served with grilled meat, an assortment of sausages and meat products, goat’s meat polenta and cheeses.
The Fera a l’Ano festival will take place in Ollomont on July 18 – 20 and give guests a chance to taste different dishes made of donkey meat. On July 25 – 27 the festival of traditional Seupa à la Valpellenentse – bread and fontina cheese soup in which sliced bread and cheese are layered on a baking tray, are soaked in broth and baked in ovens – will be held in Valpelline.
Gastronomic forms of entertainment can serve as an integral supplement though not its pivotal point to your trip. You only should pay attention to schedules. For example, if you are about to take a trip to the Netherlands, be sure to visit Gouda, which is the cheese capital of Holland. Every summer Thursday at 10.00 – 12.00 merchants of the cheese market open their kiosks and cover the pavement with oilcloths on which all varieties of Gouda cheese are laid. Besides the proverbial large 5 and 12 kg wheels of cheese, they sell small 1 kg wheels especially to tourists. There are also cheese and traditional art museums not far from the market square.
Slovak knodel, German bratwurst, Gypsy gurka, Jewish chovlent, Hungarian lecso, Romanian mamalyga and Rusyn Polyvka – look for all these dishes in the Zakarpattya region of Ukraine, where over 30 culinary festivals are held in the summer. Among the upcoming events are the festival of stuffed cabbage rolls in the village Chetovi on July 4, the lecso festival in the village of Bakta on August 8 and the slivovic (plum brandy) festival in the village of Hecha on August 28.
Moreover, you can order one of of the Wine Path or Gastronomic Path tours. The first program includes wine tasting in five cellars located in three counties in the oblast: Uzhhorod, Mukachevo and Berehove. Gastronomic Path was developed by the Tourism Department of the Uzhhorod University and represents traditional dishes of Zakarpattya, cuisine of national minorities, places where those dishes are cooked and cooking master classes. You are free to choose Ruthenian, Hungarian, Gypsy, German, Jewish, Romanian or Slovak routes for a day or longer.
For your interest
The five best cities for gourmets representing the five most popular cuisines in the world are Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Mexico and Barcelona, according to a rating of Forbes magazine
New York, California and Florida are the three main states most often visited by culinary tourists. Almost 20% of American tourists prefer wine tasting tours to other forms of vacationing
The Brits are fans of such “tasty” destinations as South-West in England, Wales and Scotland. 2/3 of the population in the UK are eager to spend holidays and vacations in their country because the diversity of dishes and drinks is constantly expanding there
The most popular gastronomic destinations among Russians include wine-and-cheese tasting in France, Spain and Portugal famous for their wines, whiskey tours in Scotland, culinary exotics in China, the oyster festival in Ireland, the Oktoberfest in Munich and pasta cooking classes in Italy.