Inspiring People to Travel through Food: an Interview with the Ladies of Authentic Food Quest
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Claire and Rosemary of Authentic Food Quest have a mission that we at BookCulinaryVacations.com can’t help but believe in. Through their globetrotting adventures, they’ve set their eyes on transforming travelers’ experience through the discovery and knowledge of authentic foods. These lovely ladies have lived in Chicago, Paris and Los Angeles and have visited a total of 27 countries and 29 states in the U.S thus far. These days, they’re living it up as digital nomads discovering authentic food all around South America and South Asia and sharing plenty of delectable discoveries with their readers along the way.
We’ve recently caught up with Claire and Rosemary to find out what they’ve been up to and what they have planned for the future. They’ve also graciously gave us tips on their do’s and don’ts when it comes to food traveling. Curious about what they have to say? Read on!
So, what inspired you to start Authentic Food Quest?
For as long as we can remember, food has always played an important role in connecting us to new places or regions. Before starting Authentic Food Quest, we lived in Chicago and in Paris, France. Rosemary’s job brought us to Los Angeles where we lived before deciding to embark on this adventure. Every time we moved to a new city, the easiest way to connect and immerse ourselves into the local culture was through food.
Our dream for many years was to start our own business. We were seeking independence from our corporate jobs and the opportunity to lead our own projects. In Los Angeles, Rosemary, frustrated with the “politics” at her advertising agency, decided to quit her job. She began working on a plan that would allow us to combine our love for food and passion for travel.
At the same time, two unforeseen events pushed us forward. Claire unexpectedly lost her dad at the beginning of 2015. And later in the Spring, her sales/engineering position was suppressed.
That’s when we took a step back to do some soul searching and evaluate the purpose of life. We decided to get off the corporate track and pursue our dream. We took a leap of faith and created Authentic Food Quest with the goal of inspiring people to travel through authentic food.
Could you share with us a bit about the beginning of your quest for authentic food?
We decided to start in South America for a couple of reasons. We were not very familiar with the continent, although Claire had studied in Brazil. We had read about travel bloggers were being encouraged to visit and highlight South America. The food in South America was unique and different enough to discover and showcase. And finally, the cost of living was more affordable than our previous life in Los Angeles.
We set off for Argentina, our first stop in South America in August 2015. Over the course of 6 months we visited Uruguay, Chile and Peru. We traveled “slow”, discovering and writing about the local and authentic dishes of the various countries.
Rosemary and Claire leaving for Buenos Aires
Why do you think it is important to travel through food?
Food offers us a window into a culture, the people and a country. We believe that when you travel through food, you can have deeper and more meaningful connections with the locals at the destination.
When travelers take the time to participate in a culinary activity or attend local food festivals, they get to understand the local customs better. With food, you engage all five senses. You open up to new tastes and flavors which results in deeper experiences. We cannot think of an easier and better way to understand a destination than through food!
Claire and Rosemary eating at Sabe la Tierra farmers market, Outside Buenos Aires
How do you go about finding authentic food on your travels?
When it comes to discovering the local and authentic dishes of a country, we take a 4-step approach.
- We start by researching the authentic and traditional dishes ahead of time. We read books, journals and research online to learn about the traditional food of the country.
- We connect with locals prior to traveling and also when we arrive in the country.
- We visit local farmers markets and food stores to see the local produce and regional specialties.
- We interview local experts who help us understand the local specialties and their cultural significance. This is a broad group and it includes chefs, restaurant owners, market vendors, gastronomy experts and more.
Our approach combines both observations and advice from locals. What makes this work is having a healthy dose of curiosity and the ability to travel “slow.” We stay with locals on our travels and this immersive experience helps us connect deeper into the local food culture.
Why did you decide to focus on Argentina for your first book?
To start, Argentina is a very popular destination and it is the most visited country in South America. One of the biggest misconceptions about the food in Argentina is that the cuisine is limited to beef and Malbec wines. As we traveled through the country, we found varied and distinctive cuisines that mirror the natural resources and the regional diversity. Through this book, we really want to highlight the variety found in Argentine cuisine and the cultural nuances.
Claire talking with vendor at Mercado del Progreso, Buenos Aires
Please tell us more about Authentic Food Quest Argentina. What is it all about?
Authentic Food Quest Argentina: A Guide To Eat Your Way Authentically Through Argentina is a unique guidebook that inspires intrepid and armchair travelers to savor their adventures in Argentina. This scrumptious guide takes readers on a culinary journey through four main regions of Argentina: Buenos Aires, Mendoza & the Wine Regions, the Andean Northwest, and Patagonia & the Lake Region.
Over 50 authentic foods, desserts, beverages, and street foods are highlighted. More than 270 references of authentic restaurants, wineries, farmers markets, and local food stores are provided. Also included are traveler tips and resources to make your journey fun and easier to plan. Illustrative color photographs are featured throughout. With the combination of storytelling and local information, this guide is the perfect companion for your food travels across Argentina.
The book is currently available on the Amazon Kindle Platform. Be sure to get your copy today! PS: The paperback version will be available at the end of August 2016.
Authentic Food Quest Argentina
If you had to pick just one favorite Argentinian dish, what would it be?
One of our favorite dishes in Argentina is from the Andean Northwest. The dish, cazuela de llama is a stew of thinly sliced llama meat in a creamy sauce served with native Andean potatoes. This dish is incredibly delicious. Llama meat is very lean and tender and the native potatoes are rich in flavor. Together with the sauce, the combination of flavors makes for a distinctive taste and a smooth finish.
Cazuela de llama, Tilcara, Argentina
In your opinion, what are the foods that travelers simply must try while in Argentina?
Beyond beef and Malbec Wines, which are the pillars of Argentine cuisine, we would encourage travelers to try the following:
- Empanadas: Argentinian empanadas are said to be among the best in the world. What makes them so unique is that each region has its own unique style. So beloved are empanadas in Argentina that there is even a National Empanada Festival. This is a delicious way to travel through the country.
- Locro: This dish is associated with the independence of Argentina. Every 25th of May, Argentines celebrate the May Revolution in 1810 that led to the country’s independence from Spain in 1816. Locro is a hearty thick stew and it comes in many variations. One of the most popular is Locro Pulsado. This delicious stew has beef, white beans, white corn, green onions, chorizo, paprika, cumin pepper and salt. Taste a slice of Argentine culture and enjoy this stew while in Argentina.
- Dulce de leche: you cannot miss this “national” dessert on your trip to Argentina. This sweetened milk which is similar to caramel is found in practically all sweets including ice cream. One of the best ways to indulge in dulce de leche is to have it in alfajores. Alfajores are two buttery cookies with a thick layer of dulce de leche in the middle. These little treats are deliciously addictive.
What’s up next for Authentic Food Quest?
Authentic food quest started as a travel adventure to experience authentic food around the world. Our mission is to inspire travelers to travel through authentic food. What started out as a personal quest is now evolving to become a resource platform for travelers seeking unique food experiences. We are looking to connect food travelers with travel websites like BookCulinaryVacations.com that offer culinary travel and activities.
We started off by discovering the authentic dishes of South America. The next continent we will be exploring is Southeast Asia, starting in October 2016. Beyond Authentic Food Quest Argentina, our goal is also to publish additional guide books to help travelers create their own food adventures.
To wrap up, can you share with our readers some of your best tips on food traveling?
Sure, we’d be more than happy to. Here are our list of do’s and don’ts:
- Be Open & Be Curious! To enjoy the food on your travels, you want to leave your habits and expectations behind. Open up to new cultures, new tastes and flavors.
- If you can, stay with locals or at least connect with locals on your travels. Locals will give you the best tips and places to enjoy food specialties from the region.
- Eat at the farmers market. Visiting the local farmers markets is a great way to explore the local food. Visit the market for a unique food and cultural experience.
- Don’t go for the “known” choices. While you will find global restaurant chains like Pizza Hut, KFC or McDonald’s everywhere, resist the urge to eat there. Branch out and savor the local flavors.
- Don’t eat at touristy restaurants. When looking for restaurant get off the tourist path and main attraction areas. Walk as far as you can from the main tourist attraction sites. The further you go, the better and cheaper the food!
Claire and Rosemary eating with local Argentines in Buenos Aires
*All images courtesy of Authentic Food Quest
Want to embark on your own authentic food quest? From Asia to Africa to the Americas, BookCulinaryVacations.com has a vast selection of scrumptious culinary vacations for you to choose from!