Human intentionality forms just one aspect in understanding the tourist’s engagement with food, and yet tends to dominate food tourism research; whilst food itself tends to remain somewhat ‘passive stuff’. A focus on the active presence of food we argue is rare in food tourism scholarship. This paper thus explores how tourist scholars offering insights into the practices and experiences of eating in tourism contexts have taken to spatial and relational approaches to explore what it means to eat during travel. We argue that tourist studies literature on food holds the potential to unlock the complexity of what tourists eat, and why. We do this by discussing two broad ‘spatial turns’ relating to tourism geographies of eating as relational. In doing this we attend to questions of how things become food through attunement to sociospatial-material relationships, experiences and situated practices. We show how these two relational approaches offer exciting research agendas that rethink food tourism not as a predetermined, structured human experience or touristic agenda – but as something that is ongoing, and made through individuals’ sensorial engagement with the social and material world.