I'm on a cross-country flight as I write this, growing increasingly ravenous as I plot out a 72-hour eating attack on the unsuspecting restaurants of Los Angeles. Two weeks ago I did the same in Mexico City. A week before that, it was a whirlwind dine-a-thon in Chicago.
Traveling to eat isn’t just my job, it’s my full-time obsession—and I’m clearly not alone. Did you know that 39 million Americans consider themselves “culinary travelers”? And that, for 75 percent of us, food is the number one reason we visit new destinations? With seemingly half the planet posting pictures of their meals on social media—be it a perfect pizza in Naples or sun-dappled avocado toast in Melbourne—food has become our shorthand for the entire travel experience: instantly relatable, intensely craveable and immediately transportive. Even on our living room sofas, scrolling through what we aptly call our “feeds,” we can roam the world one virtual forkful at a time.
And so here I am, wedged into my middle seat, figuring out just how many dinners I can fit into a single three-day weekend. You know that old adage about never going to the supermarket hungry? I feel the same about visiting Los Angeles. All the way to LAX I’m in a mouthwatering panic, puzzling how I can get to Kiriko for the Copper River salmon sashimi, then up to Chi Spacca for bistecca Fiorentina, then over to Los Feliz for Kismet’s crispy jeweled rice. (Oh, and also the requisite Double-Double stop at In-N-Out.) Meanwhile, I’m just halfway into a six-hour flight, with only two clementines and a too-small bag of almonds to tide me over.