Food & Drink

Editor’s Letter: More Than Ever, We’re Hungry for New Experiences

Let this issue’s exploration of evolving food cultures help you decide where to travel next.
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Oliver Pilcher

I bet you all know the feeling of being in the midst of some ordinary activity when suddenly a long-forgotten memory pierces your consciousness, arriving with such urgency and clarity that it feels like it must be trying to tell you something. Several months into the pandemic, I started having this experience with recollections of food I've eaten around the world. On a long drive, all I could think about was fiery tacos in an open-air market in Mérida, Mexico. Cleaning the kitchen, I flashed to a hearty bowl of gukbap, a rice soup with pork bone, that I inhaled in a brightly lit alley in Busan, South Korea. In the park with the kids, I remembered the lángos—hubcap-size discs of fried bread topped with potatoes and cheese—that we ordered on the shores of Lake Balaton, in Hungary. Sometimes I'd recall meals at fancy restaurants, like wild boar at Steirereck in Vienna's Stadtpark on one pre-kids trip with my wife, or the famous ants and Amazon River fish I ate on a solo reservation at D.O.M. in São Paulo. But more often I found I yearned for those humbler culinary experiences that made me feel like part of the fabric of a place.

I was hungry—not just for the flavors of the world, but for the sensation that only food can provide of being transported and connected. I bet you've felt that hunger yourself over the past two years. Even if you're not the sort of traveler who makes restaurant reservations before booking your hotels, I'm sure your palate guides at least some of your travel planning. Whether you're still figuring out what to do this summer or concocting schemes for next year, let this issue's exploration of the evolving food cultures of some of our favorite destinations, help you decide where to go. From pumpkin soup with mussels in Luberon, France, and jerk pork cooked over pimento wood in Boston Bay, Jamaica, to pastry pockets of spiced lamb at an Ethiopian restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, there's a meal here to feed your soul.

This article appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of Condé Nast Traveler. Subscribe to the magazine here.