When it comes to exploring a city’s authentic dining scene, while the stomach should ideally serve as the best compass, the truth of the matter is that it’s hard to find your way without good local advice. That’s where Culinary Backstreets comes in. Partnering up with some of the most knowledgeable and passionate food writers and bloggers around the globe, Culinary Backstreets plans to serve as a hotline for the hungry traveler, bedside reading for the foodie voyeur, and a heavily bookmarked index for those who want to dive into the culinary backstreets featured on our pages. With dispatches from Athens, Barcelona, Istanbul, Mexico City, Shanghai and, as we grow, from other cities around the world, Culinary Backstreets will help you explore these gastro-capitals and get off these cities’ eaten path. In order to do this, we will also be offering (with selected partners) guided culinary walks in some of the cities we cover, starting with Istanbul, Shanghai and Athens.
Our purpose is twofold. Yes, we want to get you to some good places to eat. But we also want to make sure that some of these spots and the artisans making food there – unsung heroes who are sometimes forgotten or taken for granted at home – find a new audience and get the recognition and support they deserve. They are holding back the tide of globalized sameness, which is not easy work – even if it’s done unknowingly. But we believe that every meal counts and, with the help of our readers, they will add up.
As we grow, we hope to create a community of readers and writers who follow their stomachs to the next destination. In an age of globalization, mass migration and ever faster, cheaper and easier modes of transport, cities are now the most significant and accessible repositories of authentic local culture, particularly in culinary terms. Eating locally and authentically has become the easiest and most satisfying way to get a sense of a place’s real culture and traditions. It also happens to be the tastiest way to do this. On this site, we invite you to join us as we explore the culinary backstreets.
CulinaryBackstreets.com’s managing editor is Vanessa H. Larson, a Washington, D.C. native who has lived in Istanbul since 2007. A freelance journalist, writer and editor, she has contributed to publications including The Washington Post, Time Out Istanbul, Qatar Airways’ Oryx and CounterPunch and has helped update two editions of Fodor’s Turkey. She is the editor of Istanbul Eats: Exploring the Culinary Backstreets and several other books about Istanbul.
The CB network currently includes these contributors:
Johanna Bailey is an illustrator, writer and blogger who lives in Barcelona. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, she has spent the past decade living abroad in Japan, Switzerland and Spain. Johanna has written for publications throughout the United States, the UK, Japan and Spain. She is a graduate of Barcelona’s Hofmann Culinary School and her favorite food is pie. As an illustrator, Johanna especially loves drawing food and she is currently in the process of putting together an illustrated cookbook for children called Funny Yum! Johanna’s blog and more of her work can be found here.
Jamie Barys, a Tennessee native who has been a resident of China for the past five years, believes that the best way to get to know a culture is to eat your way through it. Whether she’s exploring Shanghai’s hidden hole-in-the-wall restaurants or sneaking back into kitchens to snag behind-the-scenes recipes, she’s always hungry for more. Never one to keep a good thing to herself, Jamie can be found leading culinary tours to delicious best-kept secrets with UnTour Shanghai, the city’s top-ranked food tour provider, when she isn’t writing about her tasty finds for Shanghai Talk, City Weekend and Culinary Backstreets.
Hollis Duncan is a graphic designer who was born and raised in the southeastern United States and is now based in Barcelona. He has designed book covers for Penguin, W.W. Norton, Random House Mondadori, Georgetown University Press and others. His editorial illustrations have appeared in The New York Times Op/Ed section and Sunday Book Review. In 2012, Hollis established Food Club Barcelona, a video blog dedicated to documenting the best plates of food in Barcelona, whether at churrerias, traditional tapas bars or Michelin-starred restaurants. An avid cyclist, Hollis races cyclocross for Independent Fabrication Grassroots. He lives in the Gràcia neighborhood with his wife and two kids.
Ben Herrera grew up surrounded by food in Mexico City, where his family owned a restaurant for 40 years. In 2007, while living in the U.S., Ben realized that Mexican food is often misunderstood North of the Border, and he began blogging about authentic Mexican cooking. Since returning to Mexico City in 2010, he has continued to write about his culinary adventures and Mexico’s food culture on his blog, What’s Cooking, Mexico? He is also part of Eat Mexico, a culinary tour service that shows travelers visiting Mexico the wonders of eating on the street, at markets and in other non-mainstream venues.
Kyle Patrick Long wrote for business publications and edited translations for several years before settling on two topics he enjoys much more: food and travel. As a food and jogging guide for UnTour Shanghai, the city’s number one culinary and running tour provider, Oregon native Kyle has seen and eaten just about all that the city has to offer. Thankfully, Shanghai is an ever-changing metropolis offering new streets and delicious treats to enjoy daily, leaving plenty of gems for Kyle to write about for publications such as Shanghai Talk and Culinary Backstreets.
Paula Mourenza is a writer and copywriter. Born in Vigo, Spain, she has lived and worked in Barcelona for the last 12 years. After leaving the world of advertising, Paula became a writer focusing on gastronomy and culture. She has contributed to specialized online media in Spanish, including Yelp Barcelona and VinoE, covering wine, restaurants and places to see in Barcelona. Paula also works with Inés Berton, one of world’s top tea connoisseurs, at Tealosophy, her Barcelona showroom and shop.
Jon Seymour, a native of Columbus, Ohio, spent much of his life in the retail game before a move to Mexico City in 2011 that opened up new doors for him. Always a lover of great food, he now spends his days experiencing the incredible culture and food of this massive metropolitan area. Writing for Culinary Backstreets has given him the chance to share his discoveries and help spread the word on the amazing culinary treasures that can be found on almost every street in the Mexican capital.
Despina Trivolis was born and raised in Athens. After studying and working in Scotland and London for a number of media organizations, including The Guardian, she returned to Greece in 2005 and began working as an editor and then as editor-in-chief of Lifo, one of Athens’ most prestigious weeklies. She currently works as a writer for the magazines of one of Greece’s largest Sunday newspapers, To Vima. She likes reading, walking around Athens and eating souvlaki with pita.
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