On an Alaskan cruise excursion, couples dig in at an authentic salmon bake, learning about a custom every bit as iconic to the Last Frontier as barbecue is to Texas. Elsewhere, overseas adventurers get paired with a master chef to learn the art of preparing restaurant-quality sushi. Travelers in cities from Seattle to Seville sample the wares of street-food vendors, hungry for insight into local tastes.
Another telling example of this trend: food markets. Traditionally, travelers flocked to museums and monuments to gain an appreciation of a place. The new culinary travelers veer toward the local market, finding a real-world classroom that not only sensuously showcases regional and seasonal fruits, vegetables, fish, fowl and meat, but also offers a slice of everyday life: They can watch the perfectly coiffed Parisian housewife heft a melon, sniff it, then haggle over its price with the neighborhood greengrocer; or the eagle-eyed sushi chef banter with a fishmonger in Tokyo’s tumultuous Tsukiji fish market, while evaluating the tuna, yellowtail and snapper with a Zen master’s calm.
In some cities, you can even spend a day with local residents, shopping in the market with them, then bringing the delectable ingredients home to dice, slice, simmer, stir-fry and eat together.