Taste Your Way Around Surrey on a Food Tour

Behind every new discovery is a story – a journey, an experience, the start of something special. We’re proud to be telling Surrey’s story. It’s one we’re excited about because it’s constantly growing and evolving. In this new series of guest posts, we’ve invited our stakeholders, visitors and residents to be a part of Surrey’s story and to share their own.

Lise is the owner & operator of local tour operator Chew on This Tasty Tours.

When I did my Ancestry DNA test back in 2016 I was surprised to discover an extensive amount of Indian ethnicity.

I grew up in a very westernized suburban Toronto neighbourhood. Both of my parents were born in India. They had emigrated to England in their early 20s and all four of my siblings were born in England. I was the one true (and proud!) Canadian.

My experience of Indian culture was limited to Sunday dinner when my Mother would cook up some curry or dahl and rice and make our version of what I know to be raita. She and my Dad had learned how to cook from recipes they found at the library when they were first married. We were Catholic, spoke English and wore the clothes of the Westerners. Looking at photos of my Mum and Dad even when they were in India they never looked like they embraced the culture of the country.

Fast forward to 2021. My business in culinary tourism was becoming well-established with food tours in Fort Langley, Downtown Langley & Abbotsford amidst the challenges of the pandemic. Executive Director for Discover Surrey, Ange Chew reached out to me about curating a tour based on the recently launched Surrey Spice Trail. She explained that there were over 30 restaurants signed up for the trail and a second phase was in the works.

More than simply curating a tour to share the flavours of the Spice Trail this has been a path to discovery of my Indian heritage and cultivated a deep desire to know more! Sitting at the tables of many different restaurants in the pursuit of “tour research” has led me back to flavours long left at my own family dining table. Admittedly there have been tears shed as familiar recipes are reintroduced to my palette after 30+ years! With the extensive South Asian population in Surrey, you don’t have to go far in any direction to find an Indian restaurant! The first Spice Trail tour we curated was BIG FEAST which focuses on the South Surrey area. Despite the fact that three of the four restaurants on the tour are Indian, guests taste very different and exciting flavours at each one.

One of our newest Spice Trail tours purposefully highlights the difference in the flavours of the North of the country versus the South based on the agricultural offerings and available spices of the place. Guests on the FLAVOURS OF INDIA: North to South & Sweet Fusion will taste the influence of the rich and fragrant food of the North and discover how in the South care is given not only to the taste but also to the health of the digestive system. The Sweet Fusion represents decadent dining in modern Indian cuisine.

If you want to try something other than Indian cuisine, the newly launched STRIP MALL FOODIE FINDS offers up food from the Caribbean, Columbia and Mexico and an authentic, and guided, “hole-in-the-wall” experience! The Surrey Civic Hotel currently offers a staycation package that includes your choice of the Flavours of India or Strip Mall Foodie Finds tours!

Beyond the fabulous new culinary discoveries I’ve made as I curated tours along the Spice Trail, I’ve made some connections with the warmest, kindest and most passionate folks all of whom have offered a glimpse into the story of my heritage. Who knows … the next tour I’ll be curating may be in India!

Chew on This Tasty Tours is a local tour operator specializing in self-guided food tours of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Find more information and book a tour here.