Work and business purposes are two of the most common reasons for travel. With markets no longer being restricted by geographical barriers and businesses expanding domestically and globally, work-travel is no longer a rarity.
By Krishnan Menon
Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown. – Anthony Bourdain
Food and travel are inexorably linked. From the pre-historic times when man hunted and foraged for food to modern times where exploring local cuisine is a major part of our travel, food and travel have always had a symbiotic relationship. Food, along with language, has shaped the cultural identity of people, races, places and countries, and ethnic communities have long been identified with their cuisine. These days we see entire tomes and TV series, dedicated to food and travel. And for those seeking to explore and experience different cultures through travel, food plays a significant role in defining experiences in the new destinations.
The diversity of a country like India is nowhere more apparent than in the disparate languages, food and food-habits, and cultures. Yet, instead of delineating people and regions, food has been the cohesive factor and migration of populace has played a significant role in this. The popularity and availability of various regional delicacies across the country is a testimonial to the unifying power of food. Food builds connections and creates an understanding between people and places. That the mutually beneficial relationship between travel and food is peaking is reflected in not just the increasing number of restaurants offering international cuisines and/or dishes on the menu but in the growing availability of exotic ingredients for the intrepid home-chef ready to explore the different cuisines.
Work and business purposes are two of the most common reasons for travel. With markets no longer being restricted by geographical barriers and businesses expanding domestically and globally, work-travel is no longer a rarity. Often, travel is one of the perks associated with work – new places to explore, new people to interact with, new experiences to learn from and share.
But, no matter where we are or where we go, we need to eat. For most of us, food not only provides nourishment but often fulfils other needs, including emotional and psychological. For the individual travelling on work, whether a first-timer or a veteran, the food available on the way and at the destination can make a great and definitive impact. A frequent work-traveller who spends more time on the road than in office not only develops a discerning palate but is also aware of the need for eating healthy and regularly, and of the pitfalls of over-indulgence.
The frequency of work travel has led to a unique branching out of the food industry. Food trails are becoming popular – especially those that deal with local food and meals at odd hours. For the work-traveller, food is a gift and comfort, making them feel at home, even in environments that may seem totally alien. Food is the link that bridges the distances, and with a widely accepted solution like a meal card with long-term validity and secure PIN-based transactions, one can eat healthy, anywhere and anytime. As M.F.K. Fisher said, “First we eat, then we do everything else”.
(The author is Vice President – Merchant Relations at Sodexo BRS India. Views expressed are personal.)