Research on food media has much in common with the disciplines of Tourism Studies and Fan Studies and the promise of better understanding the intersections between popular fandom, forms of pilgrimage, and culinary tourism (see Everett 2016). Whilst acts of Food Tourism and Culinary Tourism are well-researched, relatively little study has been made of the role that food plays in the travels, tourism, or acts of pilgrimage of media fans.
The research that has been undertaken has tended to focus on how fans of fictional texts such as Harry Potter seek to consume related items such as the iconic Butterbeer drink (Waysdorf and Reijnders 2016) or re-create recipes from invented worlds (Magladry 2017), but fans of specifically cuisine-focused media texts also travel to engage in culinary experiences. The case of the Food Network television series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (nicknamed Triple D) offers one such example. The series is hosted by chef Guy Fieri, who travels the United States (and sometimes further) in search of quirky and popular eateries, many of which are recommended by the show’s viewers. Resultantly, dedicated fans of the show have sought to replicate Fieri’s journeys, often undertaking pilgrimages to visit restaurants.
Information about fans undertaking visits ranging from 100 to over 600 can be found on YouTube, in local and national newspaper reporting, on food websites, fans’ personal blogs recounting their adventures, and on Guy Fieri’s own blog for the series. In the clip, the rationale for undertaking such trips results from the ‘fun’ persona of Fieri himself, the attractive allure of the places he visited, and the pleasure gained from sharing the visits with other people via the act of asking the staff or owner to sign their autographs. In another, a couple achieving their 100th trip to a Triple D ‘joint’ were featured in the series itself. The attention paid to these dedicated media-culinary-tourists and how they are framed within the series, its paratexts, and the participatory culture surrounding it, thus work to co-create value accorded to specific Triple D sites and to these acts of culinary pilgrimage. Triple D offers a still relatively unusual instance of the convergence of food media with acts of media or fan tourism. However, the culinary pilgrimages that it inspires demonstrate how greater study of participation in practices of touristic consumption inspired by fandom of a food-oriented text offers the opportunity to understand how fans move between attachment to the textual into the bodily, the spatial, and the experiential.
Everett S (2016) Food and Drink Tourism: Principles and Practice. London: Sage.
Magladry, M (2017) Eat your favourite TV show: Politics and play in fan cooking. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, Online First: 1-10.