A Food Travel Blogger – The Occupational Hazards

Occupational Hazards Food Travel BloggerJust two years ago, I was introduced to the concept of a food travel blogger. Before that, I just thought I could be a travel blogger, and that would be enough. Supposedly, to stand out from the crowd we needed to pick a niche. We like traveling for food. We’ve always said we travel on our stomachs. Next thing you know, I’ve become a food travel blogger.

What is a Food Travel Blogger

occupational hazard of food travel bloggerA food travel blogger, or a culinary travel blogger, is way different from a food blogger. This is a distinction I think needs to be addressed. Food bloggers focus, for the most part, on recipes. Food bloggers on Instagram have entirely different photos than a food travel blogger on Instagram.

A food blogger uses props, staging, lighting, and sometimes even glycerin, to make their food look amazing. There are food stylists. Professionals who work with brands, hotels, and restaurants to photograph their food in the best light possible. Because, the goal of a food blogger is to photograph the food.

We actually eat the food we photograph. Because a food travel blogger focuses on how to travel  for food. How to learn about local ingredients, how they are produced, and how they are prepared.

And, most important, food travel bloggers eat.

Looking to take great food photos when traveling? Check out our guide on How to Take Food Travel Photos!

The Concept of Abbiocco

occupational hazard of food travel bloggerDuring our first trip to Emilia Romagna, I came across an article about different words in various languages that are simply untranslatable. It’s the first, and really only time, that I’ve heard the word abbiocco. It’s the Italian word that essentially translates to drowsiness from eating a big meal. After four trips to Italy, I’m becoming more and more convinced that we should have t-shirts made with this word on it.

After every meal in Emilia Romagna, I am in desperate need of a nap. In fact, after many of my meals while traveling I am in need of a nap.

Dynasty Cantonese in Hong KongThere is a hospitality that exists when people find out that we are food travel bloggers. Chefs want to feed us everything. Wine makers want to pour us everything. It’s one of the perks of traveling professionally as we do.

It’s also one of the occupational hazards of being a food travel blogger. The other problem: we have no will power to say no to a chef, or a restaurant owner, or a wine maker. Hence, we are left struggling with abbiocco.

But Anthony Bourdain Has a Crew

occupational hazard of food travel bloggerWe are rarely left hungry during any of our trips where we are working with tourism boards or brands. Eric likes to joke that during our foodie trip through India, each Chef worked to feed us more than the last Chef we met. And, in some respects that’s true.

We’ve met so many wonderful chefs, cooks, and winemakers while traveling as food travel bloggers. It’s not just our status as food travel bloggers. In fact, I think many of these folks are just as hospitable to “normal” travelers if they engage, and show a passion for food.

Once we start chatting with chefs or cooks, asking questions about them, and their food, they can tell how passionate we are about food. As a result, they want us to try everything. To eat everything.

Courtyard Marriott AgraThis was exactly what happened when we were eating in Agra. Chef Vivek wanted to test recipes on us. To show us the local specialities of the region. And, essentially, to stuff us silly. It was the first time I realized “This is what Anthony Bourdain must feel like.” Bourdain has a pretty healthy appetite for a tall, skinny guy.

When I watch one of Bourdain’s shows, and see him spend a layover in Hong Kong or a week-long trip in Emilia Romagna, he eats a lot of food. Chefs bring out one plate after another after another. Multiple meals a day.

This was exactly the situation in Agra, except it was only Eric and I eating the food. We tried to talk someone from the marketing department to join us, but she merely politely picked at the food. This is when I realized that Bourdain can get away with it because he can share those meals with his multi-person crew. We are only two people.

I thought the same thing recently when watching a friend’s travel vlog, Mark Wiens of Migrationology, when he filmed with Andrew Zimmern in Bangkok. Zimmern, a less svelte TV presenter than Bourdain, manages to eat a lot of food during his travels. But, Mark’s behind the scenes video shows almost a dozen people sitting at the table with them, eating. It wasn’t as though Mark and Zimmern ate all of the dishes on their own.

Don’t Trust a Skinny Food Travel Blogger

occupational hazard of food travel bloggerThey say “don’t trust a skinny chef.” A corollary is: “don’t trust a skinny food travel blogger.” Now, some of the food travel bloggers I follow, and am friends with, are skinny. Mark is an example. As is my friend Jodi over at Legal Nomads.

They are both wonderful writers and intrepid food explorers. They are both good people and educate people immensely on food travel.

But, I just don’t trust them.

Okay, I exaggerate a bit here. But, Eric and I, who have admittedly put on some weight since we gave up our healthy Ubud lifestyle, look like we enjoy food. We look like food travel bloggers. We look like professional eaters. We look more like Andrew Zimmern.

This is the occupational hazard of being a food travel blogger. I just don’t know how Jodi and Mark do it. I’ve never talked about their exercise routine with them. Maybe they have amazing metabolisms. Maybe they have a lot more self-control then we do.

Because, when good food is put in front of me. I want to eat it all. Eat. All. The. Food.

And, there, my friends, is the occupational hazard of being a food travel blogger.

8 thoughts on “A Food Travel Blogger – The Occupational Hazards

  1. Franziska Mueller says:

    Hi, interesting read! And thank you for creating a name for what I have been looking for some time now … food travel blogger! I am a food travel blogger, too!

  2. Mark says:

    Hey Amber and Eric, great article, thanks for the mention. Abbiocco is an awesome word. Part of the reason I haven’t gained too much weight yet is because, while eating a lot, I try to avoid desserts and sweet drinks most of the time, or really limit them (mostly out of personal preference), but I think that plays a part. Also, I’d like to think that eating huge quantities of chilies (one of my favorite foods) boosts my metabolism a bit!

    • Amber H. says:

      Ah! Chilies. Perhaps I should travel with them, and use them when we are in Italy and Spain too! That must be what I’m missing! Thanks for letting me share your story Mark!

  3. Susan says:

    Amber, I enjoyed your post, but disagree with the premise. We enjoyed great food all over the world during our years of travel, but we limited ourselves to one meal per day and we walked, bicycled or hiked off the excess calories from that one meal which enabled us to do a lot of interesting touring. You two could be showing your readers how to enjoy great food around the world while using exercise to explore your great destinations. Writing to you from the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where I will enjoy a great meal today and sides of Yoga, swimming and walking!

  4. Rosemary says:

    What an interesting read…the non-stop eating cracked us up..lol. We started our quest to discover authentic food from around the world in August 2015 and it is truly a challenge between eating and managing weight. We have solved for that by running marathons everywhere we travel to. This gives us a chance to explore the local areas when training and balance all the eating. Southeast Asia is next on our quest. We are looking forward to healthy eating 🙂 Cheers

  5. Erin Klema | The Epicurean Traveler says:

    As a fellow food travel blogger, I can totally relate. I gained a whopping 10 pounds from two food- and craft-beer-packed Midwest press trips this past year, and I’ve been working hard (aka eating salads at home this fall) to get those pounds off before the next trips in 2017. 5 down, 5 more to go! I can’t be a full-time traveler — at least not when I’m doing it for my blog — because I wouldn’t be able to fit into my pants! 😉

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