Friends, we're hitting the road! This week marks the start of a long-planned and anticipated new wave of content for Kitchn: travel.
Travel? You might wonder about this. We're a publication that above all else is devoted to helping you cook at home — joyfully, with confidence and empowerment. What does travel have to do with this?
My Travel Story
I didn't grow up in a family that traveled far; I am the oldest of eight kids, and our life in rural Ohio was quiet and homebound. But just because we didn't travel far didn't mean we didn't travel. Oh, plane tickets were out of reach for this sizable brood, but we drove — up to Cleveland to see family; along the shores of Lake Erie. We took educational trips to Civil War sites (I'll always remember the foliage of Harper's Ferry in the fall). We visited museums and nature centers, and trekked down to Florida to visit the beach.
This modest, ordinary way of travel is something I have always appreciated, even as I grew up and traveled to farther-away places. I lived in Italy for a summer after college, almost broke in a hostel, with no money to eat anything except the hostel gnocchi and unending cups of gelato.
Then I married a guy who travels quite a lot for his science meetings (professors, guys, they just have the best travel schedules!). And suddenly a new chapter opened up of trotting around to Italy, Portugal, and, over and over, to France. Together we've piggybacked on work travel to see much more of the world than I ever thought I would, and with that, my palate and identity as a cook have developed every time I stepped out of the car or off the plane. From bourbon in Louisville to cassoulet in Toulouse to pudding in London, travel has formed my tastes and my sense of the world.
But near and far are surprisingly alike in that they have a similar effect: they make me lift my head up from my routines, and meet new people and taste new things.
Great Cooks Learn Through Community
All of that comes back into the kitchen with me. No cook lives independently of a community, and in our increasingly globalized world, connected by the internet, places near and far come close in our kitchens.
The fractured season we're experiencing as a country right now makes me even more intent on traveling — not just to glamorous destinations but closer to home, closer to the ground. Travel is not a luxury but a necessary part of building our tool kit as cooks and seeing what we have in common with others in the incredibly diverse country we share.
Travel is not a luxury but a necessary part of building our tool kit as cooks.
Travel: Every Weekend, Not Once in a Lifetime
But! — you say — I barely have time or money to travel. It is out of reach for me, at least for now.
But is it? We're hoping to redefine, gently, what the travel industry calls travel — it's not just once-in-a-lifetime trips, but every weekend. Travel is the day trip you make to a neighboring flea market. It's the overnight getaway upstate; it's couch crashing with your friend in Miami or New Orleans over a long weekend.
Travel is driving an hour away to get a great doughnut on the other side of town; it's venturing into a neighborhood you don't know anything about yet and eating at a Somali restaurant for the first time.
Travel isn't just about the BIG destinations — ooh la la, Paris. Anyone who loves food and cooking can be a explorer, wherever they live. Tulsa? Fresno? Indianapolis? There's something great to discover near you, something that can spark you as a cook, and give you pride of place where you live.
Discovering Places to Be Proud Of, Large and Small
I know this firsthand; I don't live in New York City or San Francisco or any of these big coastal jewels. I live in Columbus, Ohio, itself a quiet little gem of a town. We appreciate things so much here; every new restaurant gets buzz. Every great new bakery deserves to be checked out. I'm grateful for everything good we have, and I'm acutely aware that there are hundreds of interesting destinations and meals from immigrant food trucks in the city, and tucked into the small towns and farmland outside, places that can spark my curiosity and sense of discovery as a cook.
We plan to bring you travel guides and destinations that highlight the small as well as the big, the day trip as well as the cross-country flight.
What Kitchn Travel Isn't
Now, there are a lot of things we won't do in Kitchn Travel. Our compatriots in the food space have restaurant reviews well covered. You can't turn around without finding best-of lists and hot new chefs. You'll never see America's 10 best new restaurants here, or the top luxury hotel getaways; we'll leave that kind of comprehensiveness to others.
What Kitchn Travel Is
But starting now we're also focused on accessible, interesting guides to places we think you'll love, seen through the eyes of thoughtful, curious local cooks who share the distilled best for cooks and food-lovers.
Each month you'll find a new issue of Kitchn Travel, with a new guide to a place we hope you're interested to explore — either as a virtual vacation from your desk, or in real life, helping you become an even better, more confident and happy cook.
Kitchn Bite-Sized Guides
We get how overwhelming it can be to really explore a new place, especially if it's large. We'll bring you our Bite-Sized Guides, introducing you to the best of a neighborhood with an itinerary for a neighborhood walk and a perfect morning. We'll introduce you to local cooks in their kitchens. And we'll bring you recipes from the road and suggestions for what to bring home.
Traveling as a cook sometimes means packing a little extra, and we'll help you with our travel intelligence and suggestions for vacation rentals with great kitchens.
Where Are We Going This Year?
Oh so many places, big and small. The December issue of our Bite-Sized Guides is devoted to the Catskills, an easy getaway for those of you in New York and on the upper east coast. Don't miss the apple dumpling recipe!
See the first guide: A Bite-Sized Guide to the Catskills
Coming soon are guides to neighborhoods in Oakland and New Orleans. We have plans to visit Bentonville, Arkansas, and Portland, Maine.
But we'd also love to hear from you — where would you like to go this year? Virtually through the magic of the internet, or in real life? And what does travel give you, as a cook? We'd love to hear about your own best travel experiences and what they brought into your kitchen.
We hope you'll join us as we explore the world. It all comes back to the kitchen, and when we come home from our travels, you know you'll find us there.