Once upon a time, tourism boards wanted to tell us that their destination was fantastic for live music. Then the tagline was art, followed by fashion. Fast forward to 2014 and it’s all about food.
Make no mistake: food has never been more fashionable. Without fail every tourism board I talk to tells me that their city/country/region (delete as appropriate) is a foodie’s paradise brimming with farm to table (aka locally sourced food) dining venues et al. And more often that not, they’re right: ‘It’ restaurants are everywhere and travellers and locals alike are scrambling for seats.
Of course 10 years ago it was a totally different story: most travellers - myself included - tended to spend as little as possible on what we ate. Our dosh was for drinking. Not so anymore: we’re reading reviews for restaurants all around the world - from Bristol to Budapest and Bali - adding them to our bucket list and saving up for a big blow out if, or rather when, we find ourselves in the relevant destinations.
In essence eating out has never been so hot all of which means, in London at least, you’ll need to be prepared to queue around the block for a bite at Balthazar, Dabbous or The Palomar in Piccadilly Circus.
Much like fashion, food has now become part of popular culture: we get more kudos for Instagramming a shot of a street food festival or an off the beaten track food truck than we do from tweeting about a fashion purchase (let’s leave that to the Kardashians).
Wondering why food has acquired the cool factor? It’s partly thanks to the popularity of TV cookery shows: my generation was raised on a diet of Jamie Oliver and James Martin - something that has no doubt helped fuel our interest in food. But it’s also because today’s twenty and thirty somethings are all about experiences. We’d rather splash our cash on a meal at fashionable Chiltern Firehouse than on Fendi furniture, for few of us have the space for materialistic possessions. Having moved 12 times in 10 years, I know that I certainly shy away from owning stuff– the fear of having to pack up possessions and cart/ship them to whichever London post code/part of the world I find myself bound for next - is the stuff of nightmares. But mostly I’d argue that it’s down to the fact that food provides instant pleasure: the memory of a good meal- be it tacos or Thai food - will always put a smile on your face and crucially, unlike fashion, music and art, never dates.
Consider that next time you find yourself forking out £15 for a cocktail in a hip bar or £6 on a loaf of artisan bread - it might make your meal taste even sweeter.