Traveling to eat isn’t just my job, it’s my full-time obsession.

By Nilou Motamed
Updated May 24, 2017
Nilou Motamed
Credit: © Sven Eselgroth

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.

Moments like this remind me of the vital role Food & Wine plays, not just as a vehicle for inspiring stories and inspired recipes, but as an essential resource for travelers hungry for the next great thing, in the next great place. That’s why we’ve dedicated this special Travel Issue to helping you navigate your way to the most delicious destinations on Earth. In our first-ever F&W Hotel Awards, we’ve created a global bucket list of food-forward hotels and resorts—from London to Las Vegas, Tennessee to Tasmania—that are worth every mile of the journey. We’re also spotlighting the renegade chefs who are reinventing hotel room service. (Bucket of fried chicken and big-batch cocktails in bed? See page 98.) And on page 26, our favorite globe-trotter, Andrew Zimmern, kicks off his new “Postcard From” column with a dispatch from another of the places where I love to eat: the beautiful city of Hanoi.

I often talk about the power of food to transcend boundaries, both geographic and cultural (in fact, I did so in my first editor’s letter in Food & Wine, nearly a year ago). This fundamental truth was brought home once again as I read Adeena Sussman’s piece about the unexpected connections being forged in Israel around the communal table. It’s a lovely story, and a reminder of how our shared passion for great food and wine can bring us closer together, from across the road or around the world. Here’s to more delicious adventures in your future.

Nilou Motamed, Editor in Chief @niloumotamed