Foods database

I was wondering is we could get some info on the foods database now. New additions have been down for months and you guys say that you don’t want new foods, just restaurants. (Which I still think is a a great pitty for all regional foods)

Anyway, I just saw one of my foods featured on the Facebook. So I was wondering what that is about if you don’t want to focus on things like this anymore.

Will the foods database ever reopen again?


Hey @CoolCrab thanks for the note. No new changes to report at the moment besides the team is working to reorganize the database to reflect the new approach and guidelines to help users out with what the database will look like going forward and what entries should look like. It will still focus on food experiences as it fits more in line with what the Atlas is and what it is used for. However, certain regional foods may work on a case by case basis. Hope this helps some and thanks again for the note.

I hope the team will change its mind(s) – knowing more about individual regional foods has made me want to experience them. I have quite a few on my travel list! I don’t want to feel limited to one restaurant or even one city or neighborhood if it’s not necessary. Just tell me about the food and what country or city it’s in. I’ll find it.


I fully agree with this. My travels have been enriched quite a lot by this database and I am sad to see that my last 4-5 additions are just dead because they are not in some fancy place.
I got a bunch more that I could add, but almost none of them fit the description that is being alluded to.

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Hey @korenni thanks for the note. I think the new format will still highlight individual regional foods and dishes, but that may also be a case by case basis for the editors to decide on if it’s exceptional. However, most entries will center on a place instead of an individual food unique to a particular country. When the guidelines are released they will outline in much better detail than I can the direction of the food database. I know it has been a long process and can be daunting for the community so we truly, truly appreciate the patience.

In the end, it will create better synergy across the Atlas and provide users with a better travel utility when using the Atlas, where they just don’t know x,y,z food exist in the country they are visiting, but they will be able to know where to go specifically to try a specific dish, and be able to plot how to get there.

Here are a few examples of the new approach to the food database.

But what if for example you have food that really represents a country and or region, and can be found either in every restaurant or even just in supermarkets. Below I added some foods that match that bill. The first one you can find in literally every french fry stand in the country, but they are unique to the country. The next few you find mainly in supermarkets and the last two again can be found in every restaurant on the Canaries. Linking foods like this to a restaurant is either impossible or misleading. Also id say that most restaurants that serve these things are in no way interesting or unique. So would foods like these not make it onto the database anymore?

As I would argue that this is a thousand times more interesting, than the moose cheese that 99.9% of all Swedish tourists will not be able to try due to its isolation. Which of course does not mean that it shouldn’t be on the atlas, but it feels like putting the bar very very high.


Yeah, I can say I’m more interested in the food and it’s history than necessary any individual place. A place could be interesting if it’s where something originated before being more adopted but there are so many dishes that just are not really done in restaurants but are by cultures.


They don’t seem to care sadly.


Here’s another example. Sweden launched chocolate covered cheese puffs. Literally everyone I know is intrigued or disgusted and they all want to try. Would something like this be possible to add to the new database?

It would be nice if you guys could address the comments above also. :slight_smile:

CoolCrab: Your softshell brethren are Just getting going in South Carolina. WooHoo!

What do you mean?

Are you not familiar with soft shellcrab, a real delicacy. In the spring, in a period of about one month,blue crab shed their shells and it takes about 24 hours for the new shell to form. Crabbers put the “about to shed” crabs in a man-made cement pool with water about 1 ft deep and watch them under light 24 hours a day until they shed the old shell. They are perfectly formed, simply have no shell. They are removed from the pool, put on ice, and sold. Expensive. Delicious either deep fried or sauteed. Available fresh for only about a month. Port Royal SC, site of the very first Euro settlement on NA, Santa Elena [1567 -google it] has a big Softshell Crab Festival every April.

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That is quite cool, I’ve never had them but would like to try. Do people complain about cruelty?

No one seems to complain. too busy eating. Here is a video that explains the process. It’s a “southern” thing. YouTube

that is super cool. I want some!

Question. I got castoreum infused snaps for my birthday. (So a Swedish spirit laced with bever anus.) There’s a whole story and history behind the stuff and I think that it would make a cool addition to the atlas. Its obscure yet cultural stuff, however, its not part of some quirky restaurant or unique to some place.
Is there some way to add it? Should I find a random place that sells it and mark that as the place? I really think that this would be a cool addition to the database, but I honestly don’t know how to add this under the current rules. @tyler, @Igdaloff

Hi @CoolCrab, I’m monitoring the forums while Jonathan is on leave for a few weeks. Happy to help you with this.

For now, I can say that we’ll no longer be publishing short profiles of general types of foods or drinks like castoreum. We’ll be focusing mostly on food-related places—but that’s not to say you should look for any random place that sells a particular food or drink. Instead of starting with a food and working backwards, we want to share stories about places that celebrate gastronomy. That won’t mean just bars and restaurants, it will also include museums, festivals, monuments, monasteries, etc.

We’ll be sharing a formal announcement with clear submission guidelines in the next two weeks. Thanks for hanging tight while we’ve figured it out!

Ok, so something like a centuries old culturally unique drink is not fit for the atlas because its not sold in some place? I honestly and genuinely think that this is a terrible idea. People don’t care if its sold in a supermarket or a monastery, as long as its unique. And from my experience its usually the regional foods that are the best/most interesting, not the weird gimmick sold somewhere to draw people.

But yea, I’ve said that before so I’ll stop bringing it up. Thanks for clearing it up at least!

FWIW, I mostly agree with Coolcrab. Atlas/Gastro Obscura is about discovering interesting experiences. If there is a food/drink item which is widespread in a certain country/region, but not well-known elsewhere (in other words, “obscure”!) then I think a general article about it is a great fit with the culture & ethos of AO.

Such an article would help readers discover and experience that taste for themselves when they visit that region. If the article instead covers only one particular restaurant or monument or whatever, then it’s a much smaller subject, and far fewer readers will get to experience it firsthand. There’s less opportunity for the reader to engage with the content directly and deepen their attachment to the AO community.

As an example from my own experience: When I went to Colombia, I saw a street vendor in Medellin selling “big bottom ants.” I had read about these ants on here, so I said “hey, I’ve heard of this, and I’m going to try it.” I tasted these insects and got their little legs stuck between my teeth precisely because there was a general article about them on Gastro Obscura. I told friends, “I did this because I read about it on AO.” I sent people the link to the article.

If the article had instead been about one specific place (like an old monastery that harvests these ants, or an overpriced tourist restaurant which serves them) then I never would have come across that specific place, and I wouldn’t have tasted the ants, and I wouldn’t have talked about it with those friends or told them about AO.

Undoubtedly, lots of people like to read about the isolated moose-cheese farms or whatever - the more quirky and unique things. But there are also readers like Coolcrab and me, who like to read about more accessible things that we can realistically go and experience in real life. It seems strange that the site would only want to engage one type of reader, and not the other.

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Same here, I’ve scoured Munich for icebock and fransbrotshen and couldn’t find them, because they are apparently a northern thing. (Beer in Bavaria is doesn’t do noncence like icebock) then when I visited Gottingen for a conference I saw both in the local supermarket and instantly recognised them. (I would otherwise never have tried the flat croissant and normal looking (but 14% vol) beer. Whenever I’d go to a country id look for the local foods and either try them via AO or to get them onto AO. There were a few cool ones from the Netherlands, Sweden and the canaries that I had in the pipe that unfortunately never made it on. I notice now with GO being dead, I don’t really search for local foods as much as I doe for places any more. I still try stuff, but can’t share it sadly. I also just don’t understand why they wouldn’t want these items as they already have a bunch and keep advertising them on their fb and such. It can only drive up traffic if anything. The only thing that I can come up with is that it’s somehow harder to curate.
P.s. the bever alcohol is really cool.