Adding a culinary twist, virtually or in person, to your cultural exploration, can provide the whole family with a fulfilling experience. Here is a sampling of mouth-watering ideas to consider:
1. New Orleans
The kids will learn about more than just local cuisine when the family can venture to this coastal city that continues to survive against the odds.
Snack on tasty beignets for breakfast. Savor po’boys or gumbo for lunch. Stroll through the French Quarter or visit the Children’s Museum to restore your appetite for dinner. Then sample from the wealth of Cajun or creole-style seafood that will be served with a smile in this friendly southern city.
The adventuresome in your group might opt for alligator on a stick. You’ll enjoy the flavorful food with the sound of local jazz as your backdrop.
Until you can safely visit, bring some NOLA hospitality and rich flavor into your own home. Some of the city’s top chefs have shared their secrets to re-creating classic New Orleans favorites. You’ll find recipes and inspiration on the website.
2. Visit Peru
Teach the kids about super foods while sharing the amazing history of the Andes people.
This country is home to grainlike and nutrient-rich quinoa and purple spuds, both considered sacred and said to have been cultivated for Incan royalty. The color in the antioxidant-laden potatoes comes from the same enzyme that gives blueberries their healthy hue. Mix these Peruvian diet staples in to your menu while planning a trek on the Inca trail en route to Machu Picchu.
3. Artichokes in Albuquerque, N.M.
Some go straight for the heart. Others enjoy dipping the leaves in tasty sauces.
Learn how to eat artichokes every which way at the Artichoke Cafe, a charming dining spot set in this southwestern city’s historic east downtown neighborhood. Gather additional local intel by visiting the National Hispanic Cultural Center as well as the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
Taste the local New Mexican cuisine, combining native chiles, corn, beans and squash, at one of many restaurants you’ll find in Old Town, Albuquerque’s 300-year-old city center.
Until we can safely dine inside, review the recipes for New Mexican soups, stews, deserts and other specialties on the website.
4. Barbecue in Kansas City, Mo.
You won’t want to visit this Midwestern town without savoring a dry rubbed, slow-smoked slab of barbecued ribs.
Rich with history and local culinary tradition, since the early 1900s, the smoky goodness attracts travelers from around the globe. According to the Kansas City Barbecue Society, there are more than 100 establishments blending a mouth-watering combination of flavors and styles.
Download the city’s BBQ Experience app and follow special “trails” that enable the culinary curious to explore by geographic area, to taste the old-school classics or opt for the modern marvels.
5. Eat local, experience global
Large U.S. cities (and smaller ones too) are often home to cultural enclaves where family-owned restaurants dish up healthy servings of authentic favorites, combined with a bit of history from the homeland.
In the future, when traveling to cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco or Miami, seek out dining options in Little Italy, Chinatown or Little Havana. There you can introduce the clan to more than just a good meal. Seek out these culinary gems wherever you wander, and help keep gastronomic history alive.
O’Rourke Hayes, an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer, may be reached at @lohayes on Twitter.