9 Food Travel Shows to Binge Watch During Self Isolation
During this time of uncertainty when the world is on pause and travel is halted, many of us are forced to slow down and rest. But for the adventurous in spirit, this can be a difficult task. Plans have been cancelled or are up in the air, we don’t know when the next time we’ll get to hop on a plane is, and we’re all just trying to get by. Perhaps you’re now having to dip into your vacation funds because you can’t work.
It’s a stressful time, and I’m not saying you should devote all of this time to binge-watching television, because that’s a surefire way to quickly deteriorate your mental wellbeing, but for those foodies out there who are going through travel withdrawal, there are a number of food travel shows out there that may help you mentally escape from the confines of your home for a few hours.
Here are 9 (10?) of our recommendations below.
1. Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
I don’t think you’ll find a list of food-travel shows (and maybe not even a list of travel shows in general) that doesn’t have Anthony Bourdain’s programs on it. They are so incredibly well known, and to some, they are the gold standard of food-travel documentaries. These aren’t the only two shows that the late Chef Bourdain did on food and travel, however, they are two of the more famous ones.
Both follow Bourdain around the globe as he experiences different cultures and foods. No Reservations is more focused on the food and drink, whereas Parts Unknown delves deeper into the people and culture while experiencing more food off the beaten path. Bourdain talks more freely about culture and politics, and pulls fewer punches than he did in No Reservations.
Between the two shows, there are over 240 episodes, meaning you could find yourself in this for the long haul.
2. Gordon Ramsey: Uncharted
Gordon Ramsay is another world-famous chef, known for his temper and crassness. Except if you watch Junior Chef in which he is a complete angel. In Uncharted (his show, not the popular video game series), which is produced by National Geographic, Ramsay searches the globe for incredible and remote places where he learns more about food and the culinary world. He interacts with and competes with local chefs as well, because good television can’t exist without some semblance of competition, right?
It’s all in fun though, and Ramsay brings his unique charm to the world and to us through this series that was released last year. It’s only got six episodes so far, making it a low commitment.
3. Ugly Delicious
Ugly Delicious is a Netflix show hosted by chef David Chang. Each episode takes one particular dish and explores how it is made and differs around the world. People are very protective over their version of a dish, so this show challenges the attitudes, culture, and ideas surrounding certain dishes. From trying to tacos in LA and flying to Mexico to learn more about them, to scouring the globe for “authentic pizza”, Ugly Delicious has the intention of making you think more about the food you eat and how it changes through time and geography. With 12 episodes, it’s a quick and easy watch.
4. Breakfast Lunch and Dinner
Another Netflix series starring David Chang, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner brings other famous people (Seth Rogan, Kate McKinnon, and more) along for the ride. Each of the mini-series’ four episodes takes place in a different city around the world. David and whichever companion is along for that episode talk about the places, the cultures, the people, the stereotypes, and the foods.
This isn’t a particularly novel food travel show, but if you like the energy of David Chang and any of his guest stars, you’re likely to enjoy the show.
5. Somebody Feed Phil
One YouTube comment on the trailer for Somebody Feed Phil said that this is the show they always watch when they’re depressed. Another echoed the statement saying it never fails to make them feel good. Somebody Feed Phil is another show put out into the world by Netflix, though this time it’s not hosted by David Chang.
Somebody Feed Phil follows the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, Phil Rosenthal, as he eats around the world. Unlike many food travel shows where the host is a professional chef and often judges or critiques the food, Phil just genuinely wants to find food he likes to eat. He’s upbeat, funny, and brings a positive energy to everything.
Apparently, Phil had a similar show on PBS called I’ll Have What Phil’s Having, and this is kind of a continuation of that. It only has 12 episodes at the time of writing.
6. The Taco Chronicles
The Taco Chronicles is another Netflix docuseries. This one focuses exclusively on tacos. Completely in Spanish, you’ll have to turn on the subtitles for this one. But it’s worth it. This mouthwatering exploration of the different types of tacos, their histories, their significance, and their popularity is absolutely worth it. Each episode explores a different taco, narrated by the taco itself. The cinematography is sublime and I can’t watch it anymore because it really makes me miss tacos. And now that I’m no longer dating a Mexican, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get authentic tacos again.
There are 6 episodes exploring 6 wonderful incarnations of tacos.
7. Salt Fat Acid Heat
Samin Nosrat once wrote a book called Salt Fat Acid Heat. These were the four things she’d observed that could make or break a meal. If used properly, these were the elements of food that brought out the best flavours. Join her now as she (and Netflix) travels the world to uncover what makes good cooking. Good cooking is universal, though the dishes differ, there are surefire ways to have good food. And Nosrat is ready to share those with all of us in this 4 part series.
8. Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories is unlike any other food travel show we have on this list. Partially because the show stays in one part of the world, and mostly because it’s fiction. Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories, though live-action, is based on a manga series.
It’s centred around a man known only as “The Master” who runs a diner that is open from midnight until 7 am. He has very few items on his menu, but he will make any requested dish that he has the ingredients on hand for, or that patrons will supply the ingredients for.
Typically, each episode focuses on a particular dish and the story of the character requesting it. It is another series that you’ll need subtitles or dubbing for, but the beautiful stories told throughout, as well as the education provided on Japanese food, makes it worth at least checking out. It currently has 50 episodes.
9. A Cook Abroad
This BBC show has 6 episodes that each feature a different chef in a different part of the world. Chefs learn right from the source how to create international recipes, sometimes travelling to remote places where kitchens and tools are not easily acquired. It’s an interesting look at our preconceptions surrounding food and culture as well as a relearning of things we may find familiar.
Having an ever-changing host means no episode has quite the same feel as the others. It’s a quick but worthwhile watch.
What are your favourite food travel shows? Have you seen any from this list? If you could travel anywhere just to sample the food, where would it be? Let us know in the comments!
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