I made the mistake, my senior year of high school, of reading Sinclair’s The Jungle a week before I was to journey to , busy city of Chicago. And, as you can imagine, I thought long and hard about cancelling the trip. I would think to myself every night about my love of beef and about the horror of finding a finger in my chili fries. I was terrified quite rightly. But then the day came when I set foot on northern soil. We stopped off at our hotel to drop off our things. Luckily for me the hotel that we stayed in is notorious for their homemade cookies (The Double Tree). I grabbed about ten cookies and swore to my friends that I wasn’t hungry nor was I willing to accompany them to dinner. However, my girl friends persuaded me otherwise. 😦
Before I had a chance to eat my cookies in the car, we had arrived at our destination. JOHNNY ROCKETS…need I say more. The smell alone was enough for me to forget the dead man minced in my burger patty. Not only was the food amazing but they received a 98 on their health inspection. This burger led me on a taste bud journey that would allow me to discover Chicago one bite at a time. The next day we ate hot dogs and the day after that deep dish.
It is easy to think of about a city in terms of its architecture, its history, and its public transportation systems but if you really want to get to know a city…try its food. It is through food that we can easily examine the cultural influences on a particular area. I love Anthony Bourdain and his television shows on the Travel Channel. It’s so interesting to see how the food of a particular area is influenced by the various people of that area. In New Orleans is influenced by the both the French and African slaves. This fusion of culinary influence directly parallels to the cultural merging that can be seen in other aspects of a city such as architecture and the religious institutions as well.
I think it’s really cool, that a lot of cities now, like New York, Chicago, and New Orleans are using food as a means of tourism. These cities, and many others overseas, are promoting their food in order to teach their culture. While I was in Chicago, I had no idea about food tourism. I wish that I did. Most of the restaurants that are being promoted in these tours are small, non-franchise restaurants and they depend heavily on their surrounding communities in order to stay afloat. In New York, there is also a food tour that centers around the shops in the village.
Food is an essential part of life. We need it to survive, jive, and multiple. It would only make sense that we would need it to explain city cultures.
Here are some links to some food tours around the world
http://noculinarytours.com/ (New Orleans)
http://www.foodsofny.com/ (New York)