Like a religious pilgrimage where people visit a shrine, often in search of a spiritual experience, gastronomic pilgrimages offer an experience other than a food. When foodies travel, it's often to find and enjoy a very specific meal, dine at a well-known restaurant, shop at a popular market, or discover the point of origin of a certain cuisine. But have you ever wondered about the lasting effect that our food-focused trips have on the people and economy of the places we visit? Dr. Lucy Long doesn't just think about the results, but she researches the results as part of her work with Bowling Green State University and the Center for Food and Culture (CFC).
As she explained to Emily Thomas, presenter of the BBC Food Chain, Long is working to promote cultural responsibility for both food tourists and food pilgrims - and she explained the difference between those two types of travelers. I went to one or two restaurants in the villages and tried these. For me, it was just bean soup. I was eating out of curiosity.
I did not have enough knowledge to fully appreciate the distinctions being made. I didn't go there as a pilgrim; I went there as a tourist. I definitely realized that some of the other dining rooms were there as pilgrims because they were eating very carefully, they were trying very carefully, and they were experiencing this on a much deeper level than just eating bean soup. Each week, The Splendid Table brings you stories that broaden your vision of the world, inspire you to try something new, and show how food brings us together.
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For the first two weeks, I ate out every night. In every town and town along the way, you'll see the pilgrim menu option. It is declared as three courses normally. However, all three are not as you would expect at your local restaurant.
The starter is usually a small bowl of pasta or, if you're lucky, a salad. The main course on the menu was almost always chicken, I got a little tired. The third course is usually fruit or yogurt. When I say fruit I mean an apple or an orange placed in front of you.
Like us today, pilgrims used to eat three times a day. But the way they ate these foods is a little different. Many people “broke their fast in the morning with some bread and butter, or cheese, or something left over from the previous day. In the middle of the day, everyone had dinner, which was the biggest meal of the day consisting of several foods.
There was probably a thick porridge or bread made from Indian corn and some type of meat, poultry or fish. Dinner was a smaller meal, often just leftovers from dinner. When you eat food in the context in which that food was developed, you begin to understand its logic.