Next week, I'm giving a presentation in the "travel culture" area of the Popular Culture Assn. convention on "Traveling on Your Stomach." As soon as could drive, at age 16, I started arranging trips (at first day trips, then whole vacations) oriented around food.
For example, upon reading Calvin Trillin's "American Fried," I was intent on doing a C.T. trip to Kansas City. By the time I coerced some friends into joining, "Alice, Let's Eat" had just been published. I indexed both books and we made a solemn vow to spend the entire trip either eating or recuperating from eating -- and only visiting spots mentioned in one of the two books (for example, it turns out that C.T. had never been to LaMar's Doughnuts, at least at the time he wrote the books, but luckily for us, Fats Goldberg had). We had a fantastic four days, and nine pounds later, we not only had a feel for why Trillian waxed so enthusiastically about K.C. food, but felt great affection for Kansas Citians, themselves. We felt that we learned more about the city than if we had visited more conventional tourist sites.
Would any Chowhounds care to share any Chow-oriented vacations you've created, especially if it involves more than just going to a place noted for good food and then eating at those restaurants. I'd like to share with these academics what pleasures a Chowhound can gather from learning about a new place via food.