Don’t have a big vacation budget this year? You’re not alone. Around a quarter of American families reported not being able to afford a summer vacation in 2018. The ‘stay-cation’ has become a great alternative for those who have a few vacation days to use up but not enough funds to travel. How to spend that vacation at home? Well, you don’t need to stay inside. May I recommend a local food tour?
Small indie eateries and food trucks are having an incredible renaissance right now. Even in smaller cities and suburbs, you’re likely to find a few culinary entrepreneurs creating a unique menu. Here are a few reasons to incorporate a local food tour as part of your stay-cation:
- You’re supporting the local economy.
- Trying new foods is exciting and psychologically healthy for you and your family.
- You could find a new favorite place for special occasions.
- It’s a fun family experience that exposes to you to other cultures in your own backyard.
You don’t need to go anywhere black-tie, either. Take for example a Twin Cities original creation, Taco Libre. The authentic taqueria is the brainchild of Adrian Ramirez. Originally from Mexico City, Ramirez fell in love with the city’s street food as a truck driver. When he moved to the States 19 years ago, he began working in restaurants. Inspired by his restaurant work and the street food he missed in Mexico, Ramirez opened the first Taco Libre in West St. Paul in 2015.
In the three years since, Taco Libre has opened three locations with a fourth in the works. Through all the success, Taco Libre has remained the Ramirez family business first and foremost. Adrian Ramirez’s wife, son, cousin, and daughter all work at the various locations and love recognizing frequent customers.
Most Americans are familiar with Mexican food, right? Enchiladas, tacos, chimichangas, nachos … but in reality, most “Mexican” food in the U.S. is Tex-Mex, as authentic to Mexico as American Chinese food is to China (so, not very authentic at all). Even the definition of ‘authentic’ Mexican food is hard to pin down; there are actually seven main regions in Mexico when it comes to food, including the North, the North Pacific Coast, the Bajio, the South Pacific Coast, the South, the Gulf, and Central Mexico.
Ramirez’s cuisine takes after authentic street food in the South-Central region of the country, especially making use of Oaxacan southern ingredients.
See? Who says you need a week-long Mexican vacation budget to learn about Mexican food and culture? Ask friends and family or scope out local forums online to figure out what the best independent family eateries are in your area. Take your taste buds on a trip!
A few more tips for a local food tour:
- Visit your local library to pick up books, DVDs and other materials to learn about another country and its cuisine
- Play music from around the world (pick up CDs from your local library too!)
- Decorate your house with simple but festive decorations
- Make crafts with your kids like homemade pinatas or paper fans