How Food TV Has Become the Easiest Vacation to Take Without Ever Leaving Your Couch

In the age of coronavirus quarantine, the food travelogue show has become something of a godsend.

By Billy Nilles 26 Jul, 2020 3:00 AMTags
Watch: Padma Lakshmi Gushes Over Yummy "Top Chef" Foods

Real talk: The need to get up and go is bordering on desperate.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our ability to travel either domestically or abroad, we remain a nation of Rapunzels, cloistered in the safety of our homes as cases continue to rise. With no end to our present predicament in sight just yet, the prospect of taking a vacation or even just enjoying a nice meal inside a restaurant shrinks further and further out of reach. 

In the face of all of this, what are those of us ravenous for a good roam to do? Turn on the TV, of course.

The proliferation of the food travelogue show over the last few years has become something of a godsend in these trying times, offering an opportunity to take a virtual holiday from the comfort of our own couches. These shows, which often involve a chef or TV personality visiting some far-flung locale to seek out the culinary delights within its borders, are a potent reminder of all that the world has to offer, satisfying the urge to explore as much as possible until we can resume the real thing. 

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Travel Shows to Take You on a Trip in 2020

So if the travel bug won't stop biting, take a trip right to your living room and start your world tour with one of these excellent shows. No passport necessary.

Hulu; Netflix; Quibi; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration
Street Food: Latin America

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

In this six-episode series, viewers are transported to a different Latin American country in each, where they learn the history of the location through its most appetizing aspect: its street food. As told by the humble vendors who've made the local cuisine their lives' work, the inspiring stories are often quite moving. And that's to say nothing of the drool-worthy food and the wanderlust-worthy vistas.

Taste the Nation

WHERE TO WATCH: Hulu

Join Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi as she travels across America, exploring the food culture that's helped shape our national identity. In each of the 10 episodes, she visits a different city to shine a light on the immigrant group that's influenced the the region with their imported cuisine. A potent reminder of just what makes America special at a time when we need it most, it's the easiest road trip you've ever taken.

Shape of Pasta

WHERE TO WATCH: Quibi

In this eight-episode mini-series on the new streaming service, chef Evan Funke travels to Italy to learn about styles of handmade pasta that are on the verge of extinction. In each bite-size episode, he visits a different small town in the picturesque country and works alongside chefs keeping these unique shapes alive, absorbing their technique, in the hopes of bringing them stateside and letting them flourish. 

Taco Chronicles

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

This six-part series tells the story of the humble taco, with each episode dedicated to a particular varietal of the beloved food. From barbacoa to pastor, you'll learn how each type came to exist, eventually becoming the pride of the region that birthed it. 

Somebody Feed Phil

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

For three seasons now, Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal has been traveling the globe on a journey of epic culinary proportions. In each episode, he hunkers down in a new city—Bangkok! Buenos Aires!—and explores everything it has to offer the best way he knows how: with his mouth. 

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

In this four-part series, celebrity chef and host of Ugly Delicious—also worth your time if you're falling down the culinary TV rabbit hold—David Chang explores four very distinct destinations, visiting each with a different celebrity by his side. From a cannabis-fueled trip to Vancouver with Seth Rogen to a hilarious meet-up in Marrakesh with Chrissy Teigen, you'll get to explore these far-flung locales through the eyes of some of your favorite stars.

Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse

WHERE TO WATCH: Amazon Prime

In this six-episode series from 2016, Emeril Lagasse kicks it up a notch, traveling the globe with his celebrity chef friends to discover the history behind their favorite dishes.

Chef's Table

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

Notable for being the streaming giant's first docu-series ever, this sumptuous series has delivered six mouth-watering volumes since its inception in 2015. Each episode follows a new and noteworthy chef, joining them in their neck of the woods to explore their personal philosophy on the culinary arts. Make sure to keep track of all the restaurants highlighted in cities as varied as Melbourne and Moscow—you'll want to visit them all once it's safe enough to travel.

Salt Fat Acid Heat

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

Chef and TV writer Samin Nosrat brings her 2017 book of the same name to life in this incredible four-part series. In each episode, she visits a different location across the globe to explore how the particular element of focus—be it salt, fat, acid or heat—is used in local cuisine. The "Salt" episode filmed in Japan, in particular, will blow your mind. Trust us.

Street Food: Asia

WHERE TO WATCH: Netflix

Before the Street Food producers traversed Latin America, they spent time in Asia, crafting their first volume of nine episodes. Just wait until you meet Jay Fai in the Bangkok episode. With her Michelin star and her goggles, she'll blow you away and have you desperate to try one of her crab omelettes. She's a true icon.