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Finding Foodie Experiences

One of the most satisfying things that my friends ever say to me is “You were right — this is delicious!”

People who know me well are used to hearing me talk about my latest food find. I love a good meal, and thanks to my professional travels, I frequently get opportunities to branch out and try foods that aren’t common. When I taste something that really rocks my world, I can’t wait to share it with people back home.

I’ve been fortunate to stumble onto a number of up-and-coming foodie trends in places around the country before they reached mass popularity among the culinary crowd. I tried my first plate of chicken and waffles at a small restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, about 10 years ago. The combination of salty, sweet, crunchy and soft made such an impression on me that upon returning home I convinced my church small group that we absolutely had to re-create the dish for our next meal together. And though some people there initially couldn’t wrap their heads around the concept, once they actually tasted the chicken and waffles together, they admitted — it is delicious.

I was 22 years old the first time I tried duck, having dinner at a ski resort restaurant in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I had never seen duck on a restaurant menu before, but my host, an adventurous guy only a few years older than me, convinced me that I would love it. He was right: It was rich, succulent, dark and delicious. It seemed as if they served me the entire bird (as opposed to the smaller portions of duck breast popular in fine-dining establishments today). Duck has since become a staple of many restaurants, and I almost always order it when it is offered. Every time I do, it takes me back to that night in Pennsylvania.

Green chili has been a staple of New Mexico’s cuisine for generations but has only recently begun to catch on as a popular flavor in more northern parts of the country. I distinctly remember the time I was in the state and had a plate of green chili enchiladas with a fried egg on top, cooked over-easy so that the yolk oozed out over the rest of the food when I cut into it. (This happened before chefs around the country began putting fried eggs on top of everything.) I was immediately hooked. Today I have the same dish every time I visit my favorite Southwestern restaurant at home, and I love introducing friends to it, too.

This is why I’m so excited about our recent article on Indiana. I always try to organize a statewide travel itinerary around a certain theme. And I knew almost as soon as I started thinking about Indiana that I wanted to highlight some of its great food experiences.

I’ve traveled extensively throughout Indiana and I have been fortunate to have had some great culinary moments during those trips. Each food-related stop that I have included in the article is a place I have visited myself and a food experience I have loved. I hope you and your group will love them, too.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.