Booking.com Debunks the Myths and Reveals the Real Destinations Behind Your Favorite Foods
For many travelers in the US (74%)* the main motivation to travel to a destination is to taste local food, but while the origins of some local foodie favorites may seem obvious, the name can often be misleading. After more than two years full of “nos”, travelers will be especially keen to say ‘yeah’ to food this summer. Recent research from Booking.com shows that 70% of American travelers are planning to eat and drink to their heart's content on their vacation this summer. With a mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, and in order to not send hungry travelers astray, Booking.com is sharing the true origins of five of foodie favorites to reveal the real destinations behind the foods that are worth traveling for.
Tender and steamy on the inside, crispy on the outside, who doesn’t love a good french fry? While the name may make it seem like this classic fried potato dish is from France, the true origins are actually Belgium. It’s not surprising that travelers can find homemade crispy french fries on nearly every corner of the street throughout the country. The story goes that the dish was invented in Belgium in the winter of 1680 in Namur, the capital city of the Wallonia province. Because of the cold freezing temperatures, and the local river was frozen, inhabitants of the city had to eat something different than their usual fried fish. The fried potato successfully became the alternative, and the rest is history. While some historians have questioned the authenticity of this tale, Belgium is convinced that the origin of french fries is created in their country. Belgium even successfully petitioned UNESCO to add the dish to its list of cultural treasures back in 2017, and the country also claims the first and only museum in the world dedicated to french fries: the Frietmuseum in Bruges.
Where to stay: Just a short walk away from the Frietmuseum, visitors can stay at B&B Chester, a cozy bed & breakfast modernly decorated. With its central location, it’s a perfect stay for guests to explore more of the city’s highlights and taste more of Belgium's finest delicacies beyond fries , including Belgian beers and Belgian chocolate, with both the Bruges Beer Experience and Choco-Story: The Chocolate museum just a few minutes walk away.
Well known in every part of the world as the iconic treat when visiting the world's biggest furniture shop, Swedish meatballs would easily make one think that it’s one of Sweden’s most successful exports. However, the original recipe has not much to do with Scandinavia at all, in fact it originated in Turkey – or at least the recipe does. The Turkish recipe was brought to Scandinavia in the 18th century by King Charles XII after he spent time in exile in the Ottoman Empire. The meatballs in Turkey are known as köfte, a popular street food dish made of beef and lamb – unlike the Swedish version that are mainly made of pork – along with common ingredients such as onion, egg, parsley, breadcrumbs and salt. Travelers can enjoy plenty of tasty köfte in Istanbul, the culinary heart of Turkey, which is also a perfect destination to enjoy even more Turkish cuisine. Join a Guided Street Food Tour for the opportunity to taste ten different local delicacies in Istanbul while walking through the city to discover its culinary scene and landmarks.
Where to stay: Walton Gardens Pera is situated in the heart of Istanbul, with popular landmarks within walking distance, including the Taksim Square and the Galata tower. The chic hotel is modernly designed, and has a beautiful courtyard to relax. With public transport options just around the corner, the Grand Bazaar can be easily reached for guests looking to enjoy some tasty street food. But given the central location, guests have access to plenty of restaurants to taste some Turkish delights anytime of the day.
A soft-boiled egg encased in deep-fried sausage meat is a typical British delicacy and can be found in many places throughout the UK. However, while the name of this egg dish sounds very British as well, it actually didn’t originate there. The Scotch egg appears to have come to Britain from India, who has an older recipe called Nargisi Kofta that is very similar to the Scotch Egg. Nargisi Kofta consists of ground meat encasing a hard boiled egg that originates from Mughlai cuisine, part of the Mughal Empire. Agra was the foremost city of the subcontinent and the capital of the Mughal Empire, and nowadays travelers can still enjoy this traditional delicacy at many eateries across the city.
Where to stay: Be blown away by luxury at The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra. This luxury place to stay offers stylish modern interiors and large windows with incredible views of the key landmark Taj Mahal. Guests can relax at the property’s outdoor pool, or visit the onsite spa for a well deserved wellness treatment. To experience some of the local favorite foods, including the nargisi kofta, guests can easily visit one of the many restaurants in the city center of Agra, which is just a short drive away.
Sugar and fried dough, who wouldn’t like a fresh donut? While donuts are very common and popular in the United States, the history goes way back in time. It was actually the ancient Greeks who invented the first donuts, also known as loukoumades. These fluffy fried dough balls, covered in syrup or honey were originally given as prizes to winners of the ancient Olympic games, but nowadays they can be found on almost every corner of the street throughout the country, including in the capital city Athens. To get a taste of authentic loukoumades as well as other local delicacies, join the Koukaki Food and Culture Tour, and be guided around the city while tasting an assortment of authentic local dishes and treats with behind-the-scenes insights into how some of the food is produced all while learning about Greek history, culture and traditions.
Where to stay: Situated in one of Athens’ most trendy neighborhoods, Koukaki, Heritage Hill Hotel is a perfect stay for travelers who might prefer a stay a bit outside of the hustle and bustle of the city center, but still be near key landmarks like the Acropolis. The property is surrounded by many coffee shops, which makes it a perfect place to enjoy a coffee accompanied by freshly made loukoumades.
Croissants are a staple of French cuisine, but they actually didn't start out that way. Croissants were actually inspired by the Austrian treat known as kipferl, a traditional yeast bread roll that is rolled and formed into a crescent before baking and nowadays served as a cookie. The kipferl likely first appeared in France when the first Viennese bakery in Paris opened in 1838. Parisians loved it and as a result started making their own versions. The kipferl became French the moment it was made with puffed pastry, which is a French innovation, and the croissants known and loved around the world were born.
Where to stay: Offering a modern and comfortable place to stay, Johannesgasse Apartments are located in the heart of Vienna, just a short walk from St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Vienna State Opera. Guests will be offered beautiful views of the property’s green court yard, while waking up and enjoying a freshly made breakfast everyday. While freshly baked croissants will for sure be in the assortiment as a breakfast treat, for guests who would like to try the ‘original’ croissants, multiple bakeries are located in the surrounding area where guests can easily get their Austrian delicacy before hopping on a bike to explore the city during a City Highlights Bike Tour.
For travelers looking forward to exploring the true origins of their favorite foods, Booking.com is sharing Getaway Deals for travelers to use when booking their next trip. Discounts start at 15 percent at participating properties indicated by the “Getaway 2022” badge, and are valid for stays with check-out on or before 30 September 2022. In addition, Booking.com is giving travelers around the world the keys to unlock a new level of additional perks with the introduction of a third tier to its Genius loyalty program. Designed to make every trip a better experience, Booking.com’s loyalty program is completely free, easily accessible and membership lasts a lifetime – travelers simply need to create an account to achieve Genius status for life. As Genius members unlock new levels, they get access to larger discounts and more travel rewards that never expire. All travelers have to do is sign into their Booking.com account and look for the Genius logo to identify benefits, discounts and perks.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 48,413 respondents across 31 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,864 from Canada, 1,999 from Mexico, 2,003 from Colombia, 2,005 from Brazil, 2,002 from Argentina, 1,020 from Chile, 1,777 from Australia, 818 from New Zealand, 1,999 from Spain, 2,002 from Italy, 1,998 from France, 1,990 from UK, 2,005 from Germany, 2,003 from Netherlands, 985 from Denmark, 999 from Sweden, 910 from Croatia, 918 from Switzerland, 1,986 from Belgium, 998 from Russia, 953 from Israel, 1,999 from India, 1,990 from China, 901 from Hong Kong, 1,775 from Thailand, 1,001 from Singapore, 975 from Taiwan, 1,800 from Vietnam, 1,757 from South Korea, 1,001 from Japan). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once for business or leisure in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2022 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January 2022.
**Consumer research commissioned by Booking.com in May 2022 and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel this summer. In total 11,187 respondents were polled online.