Heritage native’s perception of a food can be

Heritage is described by Timothy and Boyd (2003)
as being “linked to the past…some sort of inheritance to be passed down to
current and future generations, both in terms of cultural traditions and
physical artefacts” as Laing & Frost (2013) point out.  Food plays a crucial role in heritage tourism,
as it is a sense of identity given to people or places.  Timothy and Ron (2013) express the importance
of food as an ingredient of heritage tourism:

Food, cuisine and
culinary traditions are among the most foundational elements of culture.  While there is a long tradition of identifying
many places with their traditional foods, cuisine is becoming an ever-important
part of the contemporary cultural heritage of regions and countries (Timothy
& Ron, 2013).

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traveling, cuisine is often at the top of the list of things to experience.  Much of the native food favored in other
countries, like pizza in Italy or wine in France, is also available within the
US.  However, as I discovered through my
travels in Italy, Americans perception of a food and native’s perception of a
food can be drastically different.  We
try to replicate these recipes in America but as foreigners to these cultures,
we naturally strip these meals of all authenticity.  In return, we are left with our own version of these
native meals, with a vast variety of differences ranging from, look, taste,
smell and presentation, which is nothing comparative to the original.  “It is the authentic cultural experience
offered by local foods that has caught the attention” (Bondzi-Simpson & Ayeh, 2017) of tourists as
authenticity is a key motivator for travel to a specific destination.  The background stories of the origin of
specific ethnic foods contributes significantly to the authentic experience.  

The only way to engulf the
true heritage tourism in cuisine is to travel to the homeland where the
originality was born.  UNESCO (2003)
defines Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) as:

practices, representations, expressions as well as the knowledge and skills- as
well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated
therewith- that communities, groups and in some cases individuals recognize as
part of their cultural heritage.  This
ICH transmitted generation to generation, is constantly recreated by
communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with
nature and their history, and provides them with the sense of identity and
continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity
(UNESCO, 2003).

et al. (2008) stated that “Desire to experience a specific food or wine, or the
produce of a specific regions, has become today one of the major travel
motivations”.  This contributes to the
authenticity of the destination and can improve the awareness of and loyalty to
the local culture and the location.  The
purpose of this paper is to take a closer look at the cultural importance of cuisine
and how food plays a role in the development and managing of heritage tourism.

heritage is one way to learn the stories and traditions of past generations
within a community of people.  Avieli
(2013) mentions a specific article found in the journal Social and Cultural
Geography, in which Freidberg
(2003) shares the following insight: “Stories about eating something
somewhere?…?are really stories about the place and the people there?…?the
reading of a food’s story reveals, like any good biography or travelogue, a
much bigger story – a cultural geography – of particular times and places”.  Just as a recipe that is passed down from
generation to generation may share a special meaning to an individual or their
family, cuisine tourism explores the special meanings associated with food in
specific cultures and regions.  Cuisine
is a way to experience the history of different indigenous people and
traditional societies.  According to
Cusak (2003), as stated in Allen (2017), “Food is an important… contributor to
both an individual and to a groups collective sense of identity”.  Therefore, it is so important for tourist
spots to use food and cuisine to market and develop a specific location and
create a memorable experience for long-term sustainability.  Timothy & Ron (2013) stated the importance
of cuisine as “the most visible and iconic representation of a culture’s image
abroad” and the impact that marketing decisions can have on tourists
considering that destination for travel.

visitors who support the locally grown food and drink, produced in differing
communities by their own people, helps the small markets and businesses to stay
afloat.  Tourism is often welcomed by
society as it heavily contributes to many countries’ sources of income.  It is economically beneficial to both hosts
and guests to be inviting to tourists, as it may be a means to the countries
survival.  Asero and Patti (2009) explain
that food and wine become important major attractions in a tourist destination
because “these products not only strongly refer to the region where they are
produced, but also represent a geographic area, its cultural heritage,
traditions, and form a point of reference and identity for the local community”
(Alonso, 2013).  Wineries
and vineyards have become a staple way for developing communities in Italy to
survive.  Often a family tradition,
passed down through generations, these families that make this wine create a
strong culture, as well as history and heritage to carry on into the future.  Foreigners unfamiliar with the winery process
travel to certain regions of this country to catch a glimpse into this
processing.  By learning the process of
which the vineyards create many of our known wines and having the chance to
sample the local wine tastings, tourists feel connected to the native culture.  As Sims (2009) explains, “local” food
products have a story behind them that provide the tourists with knowledge of
the local culture and a sense of self identification as they find meaning in
the place and people around them.  Promoting
high quality cuisine or distinctive local foods helps to distinguish between
travel destinations.  This sense of
connection, to the culture and its prized vineyards, form an authentic bond
between tourist and country.  This helps
to enrich foreigners with an understanding of other cultures and sparks
interest from outside guests to travel in, therefore creating additional
revenue.  It creates a story for those
visiting that ultimately encourages the production and development of cultural
heritage.  As Frochot (2003) states,
“Destinations can use food to represent its cultural experience, status,
cultural identity, and communicating”.  

Traditional cuisine and foodways are fundamental to many types and
levels of heritage identity.  Food can
enhance the experience for the tourist and become very memorable to that
specific destination, creating a bond between the two.  Clark and Chabrel (2007), as discussed by Sims
(2009), believe that specific attractions that offer the chance to consume
local cuisine while on a tour provides an individual with a positive experience
that results in treasured and unforgettable memories for the tourist, which
create a sense of identity and belonging to the destination.  As Timothy (2013) points out, gastronomical
traditions can help create and promote regional and national character through
the identity relationship between food and heritage. According
to Timothy and Ron (2013), research shows that through food related stories,
specific means of cooking, and ingredients native to a specific destination can
maintain indigenous identity as well as preserve memory within society.  Especially for small
tribes and groups of indigenous people, these traditions with food can help to
educate others of their existence and distinguish them from any other group (Timothy
& Ron, 2013).

such as festivals or markets have become favorable to those interested in
experiencing culture through cuisine.  Food
festivals can help people connect with the local community and gain a sense of
identity, while also encouraging understanding and appreciation in the local
culture and heritage of the destination (Laing & Frost, 2013).  Some regions are known specifically for yearly
festivals, which attract massive groups of tourists wanting to be a part of this
celebration.  Quinn (2006) noted that
festivals “have a strongly collective dimension and they have always functioned
as practices through which communities’ express beliefs, celebrate identities
and variously confirm or contest the social structures and value systems that
bind them together”.  As tourists take
interest in local foodways, they gain knowledge and awareness of the
surrounding community which encourages pride and identity in that community
that promotes maintenance of the regions diversity (Y.H. Kim et al., 2015).

can give identity to even the smallest of towns.  For example, the Okra Fest held in Lexington,
SC and the International Festival held in Spartanburg, SC come once a year to
these small South Carolinian cities and yet are well known throughout the state.  The International Festival is an event I
personally attend every year.  I will be
honest when I tell you that my main reason for attending is the distinct
international food.  Bubble Tea, spicy
corn on a stick, mangoes shaped into flowers, and crepes are a few of the
cultural cuisines I try to taste each year. 
These foods not only help to satisfy my taste buds, but they play a
major role in the developing and open mindedness of differing cultures and
travel.  While attending festivals, one
is not only exploring the material goods and foods native to those people, but
inviting the ideas into their own personal life style.  I myself have gone home and tried to replicate
the recipes found at the festivals, and in turn have learned more than I
originally intended.  

and cuisine create a greater awareness to other elements of the cultural
environment, especially when “…they reflect cultural norms and values, the
physical realities of geography and place, involve inter-generational
bequeathing…” (Ron & Timothy, 2013) and often have an impact on other means
of personal heritage such as religion, language, politics, and social status.  In his article, Baldacchino (2015) mentions
that eating is no longer just a necessity to survival, but suggests “It is
being repackaged as a culinary experience, an affirmation of history and
heritage, a nostalgic link with the past, a key medium for rich cultural
encounters between hosts and guests… and an economic opportunity for peripheral
regions” (Baldacchino, 2015).

Culinary tourism continues to grow as a niche market, in
which Timothy and Ron (2013) describe that “…foodways, cuisine, gastronomy, and
epicurean delicacies are all elements of the broader system of cultural
heritage” and further stating “…cuisine is, without a doubt, one of the most
salient and defining markers of cultural heritage and tourism”.  The Convention
for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage discusses how intangible
heritage, including regional and local food, is both an expression of the
region or local heritage status and a symbol of the culture and identity of a
region, which is constantly evolving in the community due to changes in the
environment, social interaction, and history, which promotes respect for
cultural diversity by providing the community with a sense of identity and
meaning (UNESCO, 2003).  Providing
further evidence to the importance of culinary tourism, Walter (2017) gives the
following explanation from forum organizers, found in UNTWO (2015):

Food is a fundamental element of all cultures, a major
component of the worlds intangible heritage and an increasingly important
attraction for tourists… linkages between food and tourism provide a platform
for the transmission of culture, local economic development, sustainable
practices and food experiences, which help to brand and market destinations, as
well as support local traditions and diversity (UNTWO, 2015).

tourists consume indigenous food, they are supporting that local community as
well as the local heritage, while making it possible for the economy to improve
with the increased revenue from tourists.  Horng and Tsai (2012) mention the positive
impact that culinary tourism has on the residents and the general community as
it “not only provides job opportunities but also helps preserve the local
cuisine culture and establish the local community” (Horng & Tsai, 2012).  According to Telfer and Wall (1996), mentioned
in Du Rand et al. (2003), there are both direct and indirect impacts of the use
of local food in a region, including support of agricultural activity, improved
food production, maintaining authenticity within the region, growing
destination awareness, providing jobs for locals in the community, increased
pride in local culture, and sustainability of heritage tourism.

Destinations that are popular or well-known because of
a specific food or drink produced only in that region often use this as a
marketing strategy to encourage tourists to spend their vacation there.  Culinary heritage has become a main tourist attraction,
and this increased desire to visit certain regions to experience the cuisine
has become a competitive advantage for growing destinations.  Wine and food festivals give tourists the
opportunity to taste something different or unique, participate in a cooking
class, learn recipes or traditions, and essentially discover the meaning or
importance of the local communities’ lifestyle and heritage.  Horng and Tsai (2012) suggest that food and
cuisine represent a core element of these destinations’ invisible heritages by
representing their national cultural characteristics and local features, which
can be developed into an international brand that provides the region with a
sense of identity.  Henderson (2004)
mentions that Bell and Valentine (1997) state in their book Consuming Geographies: We Are What We Eat,
food is “packed with social, cultural, and symbolic meanings” to better
understand a regions heritage, as well as the local geography and history.  As tourists increasingly desire an authentic
experience, food is the key element in helping the industry in its
sustainability and preserving those cultures that would otherwise be forgotten
without heritage tourism.



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