The next best thing to traveling is living vicariously through those who have.
With the proliferation of streaming services, there’s no shortage of great travel documentaries and shows to choose from if you’re stuck on your couch. You could fall down a rabbit hole on YouTube or pull up Netflix, Hulu, or another favorite to go on a culinary adventure on the other side of the world.
Each of the three documentaries and series on this list offer different views of what travel, food and culture means, but they all find the heart in each. It's not about where we go when we hit the road. It's about what we learn and what we eat on the journey.
One of the most popular—and famous—documentaries of the 2010s, Jiro Dreams of Sushi lives up to the hype. The protagonist, 85-year-old Jiro Ono, dedicates his life to perfecting sushi in his modest, 10-seat restaurant. The simplicity of the dish belies the emotional heft of the documentary and his establishment’s reputation as a worldwide destination. “Beautiful, thoughtful, and engrossing,” raves Rotten Tomatoes, with a 99% on its Tomatometer. “Jiro Dreams of Sushi should prove satisfying even for filmgoers who don’t care for the cuisine.” It remains a fascinating insight into the culture of food and the world of culinary tourism.
If you’ll allow the pun, Street Food is a highly digestible documentary series from Netflix. Season 1 takes viewers to nine countries across Asia to provide a close-up look into the place food holds in their respective cultures. The show is illuminating, entertaining, and, as with Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about so much more than good bites.
The ubiquitousness of tacos makes them all the more mysterious. We have a general understanding of where they come from, but what exactly inspired the dish? Taco Chronicles seeks the answer to that question. Each episode focuses on a particular type of taco: pastor, carnitas, canasta, asada, barbacoa, and guisado. The series is as much a celebration of Mexican cuisine and culture as it is about the deliciousness of the tacos themselves.