Whenever someone asks Vera Armus where she’s from, she always has to preface that it’s kind of complicated. But before we jump in, who exactly is Vera? She’s a 26-year-old Argentine-American working in the food travel and culture industry who has lived in Barcelona for the past four years. Here, she’s had the chance to delve into a couple of different sides of the industry, including guiding, writing, lecturing, and marketing.
While she was born and raised in NYC, both of her parents hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is where the rest of her extended family still lives. And although she never actually lived in her parents’ home country, her multifaceted identity has played an important role in shaping her professional trajectory.
Growing up, her parents always prepared traditional Argentine dishes at home, something that she believes fed her interest in food culture. No pun intended. “I still remember that on the first day of Pre-K, I got sent to school with empanadas for lunch, rather than your typical American PB&J sandwich,” she says. And while this “difference” made her feel like the weird kid for a couple of years, it ultimately allowed her to see and grasp the value of cultural diversity, and adopt food as an angle of cultural exploration.
It was this background that piqued her interest in immigrant-driven cuisine, globalization, and the question of what happens when “foreign” food arrives in a new landscape. Both her undergraduate and Master’s theses dealt with topics pertaining to food and migrant identity, something that she tries to incorporate into her day-to-day work.
Vera was able to immerse herself in the food and beverage realm more deeply after moving to Barcelona in 2018 to pursue a Masters in Culinary Patrimony and Heritage Management. It was through this program that she was able to learn more about the applications of food culture within the tourism industry.
During the first couple of months of the pandemic and with a lot of time on her hands, she began researching what was out there in terms of possibilities within the food culture/food tourism realm. A Google search turned up the WFTA and as luck would have it, an alumnus from her Master’s program was working with the Association at the time, so she was able to give Vera more insight into the organization and all of its awesome initiatives!
Now working for the WFTA, Vera is in charge of our social media channels and digital marketing strategy. She plays an important part in contributing to the Association’s growth by shedding light on our current projects, initiatives, and overall mission.
Turning back to food and food culture, Vera believes “Food – and our relationship with it – hold immense interpretative potential; symbolic of where we come from and who we are, they give us insight into the nature of communal and individual identity. While everyone eats, we all eat in such different ways. In my opinion then, food, food practices, and food culture act as an immensely useful window into the history, identity, and essence of a community. Additionally, because of its transversal nature, food is a relevant topic in a multiplicity of different disciplines and areas – whether that be of course in the tourism industry, the business world, or even the political realm.” We couldn’t agree more.
When it comes to gastronomy tourism specifically, and how food became so important to our travels, she maintains that it’s an amazing way to really get to know the history, character, and culture of a destination. “Because food is such a worthy angle of analysis, it allows us to literally and metaphorically get a taste of a place’s culture,” she says. Since food is also a social act, she believes it acts as a great avenue to actually connect with locals (whether that be food vendors, local inhabitants, etc.).
A couple of fun facts about Vera:
Vera’s favorite food & beverage travel experience was a couple of years ago at Noor – Paco Morales’ restaurant in Cordoba, which seeks to recreate the cuisine of Al-Andalus. Here, each season is representative of a different century during the time of the rule of the Caliphate of Cordoba, with each menu exclusively using ingredients and products that were around in a particular era of the empire. Although she’s not usually into fine dining, as a history nerd, she says it was amazing to see how Paco paid homage to this heritage and used food as a vehicle of historical exploration.
Vera says that her all-time favorite food is Bife de Chorizo (an Argentinian steak cut) and her favorite drink would have to be a Caipirinha (Brazilian cocktail).
She looks forward to someday visiting Paraguay or the Philippines as her next culinary destination. When it comes to the future of food and beverage travel, she hopes for the adoption of regenerative or at least more sustainable tourism practices.
Finally, when asked to share a food-related fun fact about her heritage, Vera mentions that in Argentina, they eat gnocchi on every 29thof the month for good luck!
It’s great to have you on the team, Vera! Thank you for everything you do.