We travelled our way through food in 2020, this is where we went

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 taste buds. We were keen to find out the many ways you’ve been exploring the world whilst we’ve been grounded, so we commissioned a survey, intended to look at over 50,000 key words people were searching for on Google. We thought the results were more than a little interesting, so we thought we’d share some of the highlights as a little inspiration.

After a full year of lockdown, it’s no surprise that 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!

woman carrying a basket of vegetables through a busy market

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%.

blue and white ceramic plate with mexican tacos

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 Belarusian 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.

multicoloured city skyline at daytime

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.

an infographic of Trafalgar's most popular foods and cuisines in 2020

Whilst we all know and love pizza, how familiar are you with Andorran cuisine? This small landlocked microstate perched amidst the high peaks of the Pyrenees was the talk of the town world this year. With 80% more searches about Andorra’s national cuisine than the previous year, we predict there will be a global appetite for exploring the 16th smallest country in the world once food travel resumes!

an infographic of Trafalgar's top 10 trending national cusines

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.

grey temple scenery in Nepal

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.

an infographic of Trafalgar's top trending food tours

Fast-forward to 2021 and despite the travel restrictions, our appetite for global food travelis 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 trendy food destinations. Travel to New Orleans has been particularly trendy, with searches for the ‘big easy’s’ food tours up by 123%.

Do you believe that food and travel go hand in hand? Our Be My Guest dining experiences are exclusive to Trafalgar and designed to connect you with locals in the places you visit. These experiences will see you breaking bread and sharing stories with fascinating individuals from all across the world as families welcome you into their home to share recipes passed down from generation to generation. Whether sampling rich bodied Chianti in a Tuscan vineyard, tasting Japanese delicacies in a traditional ryokan or enjoying the farm to table dining experience at an organic farm in Hawaii, Be My Guest is the ultimate celebration of food travel.

Curious to discover last years top quarantine food trends? Our number one trending 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%).

Love food and travel? Our food tours will have your taste buds dancing as you experience the world’s best cuisines the local way. From exploring Florence’s markets before making pasta, then feasting on Italian favourites in a Tuscan villa or an authentic Māori Hangi in New Zealand, to cooking traditional Peruvian food with an award-winning local chef, a food holiday with Trafalgar will ensure you unlock the world’s most delicious destinations.

lots of fruit during daytime market

Discover all of our dedicated food tours, now available for 2022 and beyond. Where would you most like to go? Leave your thoughts in the comments below…

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