Marana News: Food tour brings area’s UNESCO designation to life


In 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added 47 locations to its “Creative Cities” network. Tucson (and all of Southern Arizona) was added for gastronomy. In response to this designation, the Town of Marana created a unique Gastronomy Tour. The Marana News covered the designation and tour in a recent issue

Marana possesses a rich food culture, blending ancient flavors with contemporary techniques, that it was deserving of its own showcase.

This showcase comes in the form of the Marana gastronomy tour program, a five hour ride with tastings of local wild foods, samples of craft beers, and historical explorations.

“I’ve found that everything people use to describe Tucson’s food describes Marana better,” said Laura Cortelyou, tourism and marketing manager for the Town of Marana.

In development since December 2016, Marana’s tour is the first food tour approved by a UNESCO creative city in the United States.

With a 4,000-year-old agricultural history (one of the oldest in North America) surrounding them, patrons of Marana’s food tour will experience what few rarely do: visiting archaeological sites, learning about their food history, and then going to modern restaurants where the same styles of dishes are made today. Some of the stops will include drinks at Catalina Brewing Company and a sampling of wild gourmet foods from Bean Tree Farm foods, and cocktails and more at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.

“The best part is that we’re not setting up a fake tour to show the food,” Cortelyou said. “These really are local foods we use all the time—prickly pear, nopales, Sonoran wheat, mesquite, tepary beans. You can forage more wild foods here than in any other desert in the world.”

The tour runs twice a week, from Dec. 1 through April 2018, and promises to hold up to a worldwide UNESCO standard. To sign up, visit sign up:

“I designed this so that anyone in the world who came to our city could understand our food culture.” Cortelyou said, “The goal is to showcase the creativity of our brewers and bakers, and show how their food is inspired by the local flavors. The tour works because it’s what we already do here. It all just fell into place.”

Read the full story in the Marana News