6 Comments

It’s something I have constantly wrestled with on travel commissions: balancing the wants and needs of mastheads and destination tourism bodies. Most of the time if a trip is funded there’s been a lot of discussion up front where I lay the groundwork and see if I can work with an organisation. I’m in the fortunate position that I can pick and chose, and I don’t do group famils. I’ll research and know what I want and don’t. It’s rare but I’ve had occasions where an organisation has insisted on their own itinerary (with little or no input), provided sometimes days before departure, and it’s usually airbrushing a destination: lacking cultural diversity, white chefs doing high end stuff, POC serving traditional or street food, communities and histories cut out because it doesn’t fit a glossy narrative. Perhaps not understanding that people want all this context when they travel, or just when they’re reading about travel (even in the glossies). It’s at that point where I’ve needed to go a little rogue, fall back on my research but more so the people I meet in the destination. Uber and taxi drivers, bartenders, being the secret weapon.

Expand full comment

Very grateful that you're sharing these lectures. This one in particular hits home, as my province has invested heavily in a glossy sort of travel-tourism marketing, while at the same time suffering severely under years of austerity. To the point that the ads (and the associated travel and food writing) have little or nothing to do with the lived experience of the people here. Thank you!

Expand full comment
1 hr agoLiked by Alicia Kennedy

I really enjoyed this piece and your point about as a traveler we need to be very aware that there is a line between ourselves and the food we experience in a place, regardless if we have a certain level of speaking the language. In past travels, my search for authenticity brought me to try to focus on eating in places without tables or with dirt floors, to the point that I felt anything with tables and plates was not “authentic” enough. This I now realize was quite a bit of poverty porn- as if those with tables and running water aren’t authentic in the ways they live in place. From your pieces, to me the question of who is determining authenticity, and for whom? Is authenticity an image that will build our social capital on social media and stories we tell, or is it the actual appreciation of creating relationships with people in places, eating the food with them, and having the care to ask them about what they care about. My focus on power often makes me forget that how much control of the wheel we has highly varies. Which brings me to the journalistic aspect you talked about- what should we be expecting of travel/food writers? I would hope more of what you write about. 🩵

Expand full comment