There is something about food that calls to me. Nothing evokes the sense of a city like the smell, the feel, the sight, and taste of its food, all mingling together into a potpourri for the senses. Some of my earliest travel memories are of food: my relatives feeding me spicy pickle and rice as a child in India; that giant double scoop ice cream cone at Yellowstone National Park that I just had to have but didn’t even come close to finishing; the ubiquitous lemon rice and yogurt rice that always came with us on family road trips; the samosas I made in a Chilean hostel; the list could go on for pages.
Although my family considered me a picky eater as a child, much of my adult life revolves around food. I love to cook, and what I love even more is eating. When I plan trips, I often build itineraries around food that I want to eat. The food is as important to me as the location itself. It comes as no surprise then that I recently booked a trip with no plans other than eating.
I initially decided to go to Toronto for Memorial Day weekend because I had never been to Canada, the flight prices were cheap, and I knew there was good Indian food. I recruited a friend to come along and eat with me for a weekend, and she readily agreed. So we bought our tickets, booked a room through Airbnb, and then proceeded to make zero plans.
The week before we left, I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about what there was to do in Toronto. I did a couple of Internet searches and browsed some options, then decided that we could figure out what to do once we got there. I also called my dad in India to ask him where to find the best Indian food in Toronto. It turns out I was calling late enough that he was already asleep, but even in his half-awake state, he was able to tell me to head to Gerrard Street.
Once we arrived in Toronto, we got a couple of eating recommendations from our Airbnb host. We then proceeded to spend the entire three-day weekend walking around the city and eating whatever caught our eyes. I briefly contemplated doing a calorie count for the trip, just as a matter of scientific curiosity, but I quickly decided that it would be way too shameful to share. So, you’ll just have to take my word for it that I ate way more than I should have.
There were temptations everywhere: delicious all-you-can-eat Indian buffets; passion fruit cream cheese macarons; churros and empanadas in a market where I heard more Spanish than English; even hot dog stands advertising veggie hot dogs!
We started the weekend off with this waffle-themed brunch at Starving Artist, near where we were staying.
And here is a sampling of some of the other things I had to stop to eat as we explored the city for three days.
I know I must have missed out on some of the “must-see” attractions in Toronto, but the copious amounts of delicious food I ate more than make up for it. I experienced Toronto in a much more immersive way than if I had just stood in line to go to the top of the CN Tower. I wandered the various neighborhoods and explored the many nooks and crannies of the city. And I have to say, I’d definitely go back, just to eat.
Is food an important part of your travels? What is your favorite food-related travel memory?