Dining in local restaurants, trying out street food, and discovering hole-in-the-wall food shops were many travelers’ usual routines in a foreign country. Others worked with travel agents of luxury cruises to make their food trip even more extensive, ticking one foreign cuisine off the list at every stop.
Those were the typical itineraries before the pandemic. But now, the world is somewhat at a standstill—the ability to travel by air, land, or sea depends on each country or city’s lockdown restrictions. Exploring Asia or Europe and crossing off food items or restaurants on our bucket lists has become more difficult.
As we go through the pandemic, we have to be patient and focus instead on making the most out of our time at home. However, we may feel that traveler’s urge from time to time. And when that happens, we have to make do of what we have. If you have Netflix, turn to it to quench your thirst for exploration. This streaming platform offers various food and travel shows that can bring you to places in an hour or two.
Chef’s Table revolutionized food documentaries with its cinematic shots of the world’s best dishes, mesmerizing soundtrack, and compelling life stories of several Michelin-starred chefs. Every episode will treat you with scenes of a chef taking a stroll through a local market, farms, and greenhouses. Telling the chef’s stories also sometimes include snapshots of beautiful sceneries of their hometown, France (where most of them have learned the art of cooking), and other spots they usually visit when they’re not in their restaurant. This show could pique your interest in seeing a new place or taste a new dish in the future.
Street Food (Asia and Latin America)
From the creators of Chef’s Table, the Street Food series takes you on a journey to the streets of Thailand, Japan, Argentina, Mexico, and more. After all, if you’ve traveled the world, you already know that many great dishes don’t come from luxurious restaurants—they’re cooked right on the street by vendors loved by locals and tourists alike. Since this show is from the producers of Chef’s Table, you can expect strikingly beautiful food shots, a great soundtrack, and unique stories.
Plus, since the lens is focused on street food, you’ll see how the average Mexican or Thai eats. And you probably know this: the best authentic travel experiences start by asking where the locals eat or go. You will surely see good slice-of-life moments in different cultures by simply binge-watching this food series.
With his restaurant, Momofuku, David Chang successfully transformed Big Apple’s restaurant scene in the 2000s. So, it’s no wonder he’s doing the same with his cooking show titled Ugly Delicious. Each episode focuses on a single food or cuisine, tackling the history behind it while taking bizarre detours into pop culture, Chang’s life, and a round-table discussion between Chang and fellow chefs and celebrities.
One thing that sets Ugly Delicious apart is it isn’t afraid to ask questions. Through conversations over food, the show has successfully explored social issues related to soul food or immigrant experience. That somehow emulates the cultural learning you usually get when you’re exploring a new town or city.
Ever dreamed of spending a month in Mexico to try all the tacos the country can offer? Have a glimpse of that experience by watching this Spanish-language series called Taco Chronicles on Netflix. The show has six episodes; each episode puts the spotlight on a particular type of tacos like pastor or carnitas. Like many food docu-series, this show offers ingenious camerawork that leaves you craving for food—in this case, tacos. But beyond the stunning shots, this series shows the rich history of taco and Mexico. And the down-to-earth scenes give you a taste of what it’s like to be in Mexico on a typical day.
Chef’s Table: BBQ
The newest series from Chef’s Table and Street Food creators will take you to the smoky, juicy world of barbecue. Each episode features a famous pitmaster and a vibrant barbecue culture. You’ll get to know the stories of the incredible people behind the smokers. You’ll witness the communal experience involved with slowing down and enjoying a brisket or a rack of juicy ribs with others while having a beer. And that could remind you of a lot of good times on the road. After all, sometimes, you don’t need to do too many touristy things to have a fulfilling travel experience—you just have to get a good meal.
It will still take several months before we can explore the world again. For now, let’s relive the good times or have a glimpse of what more we can see by watching these food and travel shows on Netflix.