Tasty travels south of the border

Brand USA wants Canadian visitors to discover not only the country's beaches but also its regional...

Brand USA wants Canadian visitors to discover not only the country's beaches but also its regional cuisine -- and beverages. FOTOLIA

Robin Robinson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:23 PM ET

Think giant burgers, fries and slushies are staples of American cuisine?

A new initiative from Brand USA's Discover America campaign might change your mind and prompt a run for the border.

The 66-page Discover America: Great American Food Stories aims to inspire culinary explorations -- especially among Canadian travellers looking for new things to experience in our top travel destination.

The free guide -- which can be explored online and is also distributed through U.S. embassies -- is packed with great regional recipes from six culinary regions -- Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest and Pacific -- plus Holiday standards. It includes everything from classics such as Clam Chowder (Northeast) and Pecan Pie (Southeast) to more modern creations such as Zinfandel Spaghetti with Spicy Rapini, and Huckleberry and Black Pepper Tart (Pacific).

Some 31 accomplished chefs from across the U.S. contributed to the publication, which also includes details on regional events, food festivals and local beverages such as craft beers, Kentucky bourbon and a Classica Margarita (Southwest).

Most travellers will not have heard of Brand USA -- the public-private partnership that works to promote travel to the States. The national travel agency often works behind the scenes with its travel industry partners.

But with a recently renewed mandate to boost tourism -- a major cornerstone of U.S. and world economies -- the agency will soon refocus its energies on the Canadian market, says Chris Thompson, the group's president and CEO.

As a former president and CEO of Visit Florida, Thompson is well acquainted with the value and potential of the Canadian tourism market.

Canadians are the United State's No. 1 foreign visitors in terms of frequency, length of visit and amount spent, Thompson says. Adding it's very important not to take us for granted.

"We want to sell more of America to more Canadians," he says. The biggest challenge? Battling the "been there, done that syndrome," by getting Canadians to visit smaller communities from coast to coast.

And Thompson hopes food is the tasty ticket to entice travellers off the beaten path.


To check out the recipes and get more information on food fairs, festivals and events such as cooking demonstrations, see discoveramerica.com/foodstories.