For most of us, travelling since last year has been a lot less about jading jet-lags, pool-side prosecco or must-do museums and a lot more about travelling with our tastebuds.
After a full year of lockdown, we’ve explored the world – quite literally - via word of mouth, following our palate rather than our hunger for new travel adventures. The result? We’ve seen new food trends and experiences emerge, that will likely shape how we explore the world in the future. In short, lockdown has made us hungry for food travel, and we can’t wait to see where your bellies will lead you on your next holiday.
With so many of us embracing the stay-at-home message, even the most novice of cooks attempted baking, proofing or cultivating their own yeast starters. Ever wondered why your local supermarket’s flour and yeast stocks were always depleted? Now you know: pizza. With a 26% increase in pizza searches worldwide, many of us attempted (and perhaps just a few succeeded) to make one of Italy’s most popular food dishes.
When it came down to food trends however, the world looked to Latin America for inspiration. The proof? Searches for Mexican enchiladas and Latin American street food, like churros, were both up by 42%.
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When we weren’t kneading dough or looking for food travel inspiration, we also gave our best shot at recreating our favourite take-away dishes. One of the most popular cuisines in the world is Chinese food, and last year proved that not even a pandemic could stop our global desire for dim sum, chop suey or chow mein.
Yet while we all love a good Chinese takeaway, in 2020 we also looked to new exciting food experiences and explored previously overlooked foods of the world, too. Our interest in new flavours inspired one of the biggest food trends of the year: Eastern European food. And with searches for Belarussian local restaurants up by 1,600% and interest in Romanian food tours up by 85%, we're predicting that food travel to Eastern European countries will boom.
Keen to try the delights of Eastern European food for yourself? On our Highlights of Eastern Europe food tour, you can look forward to sampling the best of Vienna, Budapest, Prague and more.
Lockdown might have changed our habits, but it definitely hasn't changed our love for food experiences, or our desire to explore the world through our taste buds. These were the most popular dishes from some of our favourite foodie nations:
Sweet and sour chicken move over, it's all about the dim sum! These small but delectable dumplings topped the list of most popular Chinese dishes followed by the ever-popular chop suey and chow mein.
Whether you’ve made your Italian mamma proud by cooking your own lasagne or discovered a new talent for making homemade pizza, over lockdown we couldn’t get enough of mastering the Italian culinary experience from home.
Did someone say taco Tuesday? We might not have been able to take up this tradition at a restaurant (or better yet, on the Yucatan's sandy beaches), but we definitely loved recreating the Mexican at home food experience.
Those little rolled up bundles of gastronomic delight commonly known as sushi rolls have been all-time favourites for a while now. But any foodie will tell you there's way more to Japanese national cuisine than sushi, so we've rightfully been getting stuck into ramen and takoyaki, too.
If you can't get enough of a good biryani, you're not alone - biryani is one of the most popular dishes in the world. But there was also a global appetite for butter chicken and naan, too.
And as for new food trends that made their way onto the trendy food list? Well, while travelling to paradisiac Pacific places was off-limits, that didn't stop us from searching about exotic cuisines like Tuvalu and French Polynesian food.
In 2020 we roamed the world from our kitchen tables, but what were we searching for? Well, warmth and spice evidently, based on the fact that food tours to the Caribbean island of Jamaica grew by 1,451%. But it wasn't just warmth we were after, as the next most searched destination was chilly Nepal, with many of you keen to explore its national cuisine.
Found yourself craving warming flavours and exotic spices, and ready to explore beyond the kitchen table? Why not follow the trend by embarking on a Morocco food tour? Sample the country's national flavours like mint tea, tajine and couscous while exploring on our Best of Morocco tour. As well as diving into Morocco's colourful history and way of life, you'll be immersed in the nation's famous foodie scene through rich cultural experiences like our exclusive 'Be My Guest' dinner experience, hosted in a traditional Riad in Fes.
Fast-forward to 2021 and despite the travel restrictions, our appetite for global food travel is just as ravenous as ever. In fact, demand for food tours globally increased by 24% in the first 3 months of 2021 alone. So where do we have our sights set on? Trendy food destinations include Vietnam, where searches for Hue food tours have boomed by an incredible 253%. In a country famed for crispy spring rolls, steaming bowls of pho and fresh salt and pepper squid, it's not so hard to see the foodie appeal. Discover it for yourself on our Vietnam and Cambodia Uncovered vacation.
Regional food tours have also proved popular so far this year, with 86% more searches for US food tours, making it one of the most trending food destinations. Travel to New Orleans has been particularly trendy, with searches for the 'big easy's' food tours up by 123%.
Curious to discover last years top quarantine food trends? Our number one trendiest food was the newly launched Mexican mango tajin popsicle with a 7,923% increase in searches. But Mexican food was also trending on social media with dishes like birrieria and quesabirria tacos featuring in all our favourite foodie's blogs.
If Mexico's national cuisine was on everyone's lips in 2020, fast-forward to 2021 and it's all about Bangladeshi food with searches for bhorta increasing by 511% making it one of our favourite trendy foods of the year. More finger-licking trends we'll sure hear more about in 2021 are Basque burnt cheesecake (174%) and juicy birria from Mexico (173%).
Ireland food trends
Curious to know what food experiences Irish people searched for in 2020?
The Emerald Isle got adventurous with their food trends in 2020 as the top trending cuisines were Armenian and Mongolian. You may have heard that good things come in small packages. Well that was true of Ireland's top trending dish, delicious little dumplings. This quarantine food trend got us mastering the art of dumpling making, from choosing the best filling to learning how to shape the dough.
There's nothing more comforting than an old favourite - how about a slice of traditional Dublin cake? Searches for this national dish exploded by 1,486% in 2020 as many of you had your sights on becoming star bakers.
What cuisine caused a stir in 2020? Ragu, rigatoni and ravioli were the order of the day as Italy's food became the most popular cuisine with a 56% rise in searches from 2019. For those of you looking further than their kitchen's hobs, our Best of Italy food tour lets you enjoy these iconic dishes with a local foodie expert at his family-run restaurant on the island of Isola Madre on the scenic Lake Maggiore.
2020's top quarantine food trends let us explore the world from the comfort of our own homes. Ireland was fascinated by the land of safaris and savannahs taking recipe inspiration from Kenya's national cuisine. In fact, Kenyan recipes were Ireland's top trend, sending online searches up by 167%. Make Kenya your go-to destination for food travel in 2022, with our Wonders of Kenya food tour you'll get to experience the local fauna on an exciting safari and then relax with a delicious cup of perfectly-roasted Kenyan coffee directly from the local farmers.
2020 was a year like no other. We all know travel was off the cards for most, but did you know it also changed the food experiences we had?
Instead of dining out in busy restaurants, the most popular foods were on our kitchen tables driving searches for online recipes and takeaways through the roof.
Our changing food habits saw a dip in searches for local restaurants by 12% but a sharp rise in searches for food recipes with Mexican food topping the list of most trendy foods and Italy's national cuisine featuring as the most popular cuisine. The most popular dish was searched for over 28,000 times - pizza definitely got a lot of you through 2020!
When we felt like ordering in, a hearty bowl of Chinese noodles did the trick. You searched for Chinese takeaways over 80,000 times in 2020 making it your most popular food to indulge in at home. Keen to extend your knowledge of China's national cuisine? Learn how to prepare your favourite Chinese meals directly from the local chefs with our Classic China food tour. This 10-day immersion into China's customs and traditions will see you explore Beijing's Forbidden City and see the behind the scenes life of Hutong residents.
What food experiences was Ireland indulging in throughout 2020? You definitely took to comfort foods, sending searches for dishes like Russia's beef stroganoff up by 40%.
When looking for recipe inspiration, you searched for Mexico's national cuisine 118% more times making it one of Ireland's top food trends for 2020.
Next up, fragrant spices, doughy naan bread and crispy popadoms… need we say more? Indian cuisine featured as one of your most loved foods of the world with searches up by 17%. But whilst some of you attempted cooking your favourite Indian dishes at home, the majority of you seemed to think the curry house did it best! Indian food was your second most searched for restaurant and also featured as one of your top 5 go-to takeaways.
Want to know more about India's most popular foods and discover new exciting dishes? Make India your food travel destination for 2022, with our Uncover India: Delhi to Kerala food tour you'll get to savour the best delicacies with a local family in Jaipur and explore the bustling spice markets in Mumbai.
Irish treats, most loved abroad
One of the most popular Irish exports isn't a food or drink but that familiar sight of an Irish pub.
But what food experiences might you be craving along with a pint of Guinness? Well, the most searched for dish worldwide was that hearty classic, the Irish stew, racking up 830,000 searches worldwide.
For those living abroad, it seems like baking was a lockdown trend that caught on. The UK's trending dish was Northern Irish soda bread with a 249% jump in popularity. On the other side of the planet, Kiwis were looking for Irish Guinness bread, a delicacy that leaped 600% in online popularity.
There's one ingredient that a luscious loaf can't do without: lashings freshly churned local butter. Why not plan a visit to a traditional farmhouse on your next holiday to Ireland? Explore Ireland's luscious green pastures, impressive medieval castles and delicious local food scene with our Treasures of Ireland & Dublin food tour.
Food tours in Europe
We may not have been able to travel abroad in 2020, but that certainly hasn't stopped us from planning exciting food tours to some of Europe's best foodie destinations.
Eastern Europe featured as one of the go-to food travel destinations across the world too, with many countries eager to visit this area of the world once travel resumes. In Ireland, we showed great interest in Romania's food scene with searches for food tours to this Eastern European nation up by 400%.
Italy and Germany also featured as top food travel destinations with Irish people longing for Rome's traditional pastas and Germany's classic bratwurst. So, why not plan a food trip to Germany in 2022? With our Best of Germany food tour you can relax and enjoy the scenic views as you savour the best of Germany's national cuisine knowing you're being looked after by the best travel guides and booking experts.
Many of our Be My Guest experiences touch upon these popular foodie destinations. Enjoy a High Tea hosted in a luxurious 18th-century home in Country Mayo, or dig into a homemade Beef & Guinness Pie at Ballyknocken Farmhouse near Dublin.
How we got our findings
• We have created a database with 50,000+ English language keywords related to cuisines, local food specialities, food travel and national restaurants/takeaways.
• We have focused on new food trends and cravings users got during 2020 – the year of lockdowns. We have used Google Trends and Google News to correlate the top trending terms/cuisines to social and cultural events.
• We have explored the industry reports to find out the emerging food trends of 2021.
• We used the data from Google Keyword Planner to identify the most popular and most quickly growing trends globally, based on search demand from January 2019 to March 2021.
• Most popular options are based on the highest 2020 search volumes, most trending – on the biggest demand growth rates, compared to the previous year.
• We also pulled country-level search volumes for the same period.