The Food Lover’s Guide to the World from Lonely Planet gives us just one more reason to travel. As NY Times food writer Mark Bittman points out, these days it’s easy to find local restaurants with authentic cuisine from almost anywhere in the world, but that is nothing like experiencing the food in situ. You just have to go there to experience the atmosphere… dining next to the locals, deciding what to order, ordering and interacting with the wait staff. All of that, plus the taste, can contribute to a fantastic dining experience.
The book highlights China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States. It gives an overview of each country’s approach to food followed by specific examples of dishes, restaurants to try and sometimes even recipes. For instance, there’s no such thing as just “Chinese food” in China. There are at least eight different regional cuisine styles each with their own distinct flavors. In Greece, lunch or dinner is usually the main meal and the people use the time to savor the food, catch up on the news and gossip, and in general, enjoy a sense of community. There’s no such thing as “fast food,” instead it’s an extended event to be lingered over.
The book is also filled with great photos and loving descriptions of the food. I like to eat as much as the next person and I tend to be kind of cnservative in my choices. But I must say some of these descriptions had me dreamy-eyed and salivating. What exactly does cream cheese laced with rose water taste like? There are also lists of festivals like the Battaglia delle Arance held during February and March up until Lent in Ivrea, Italy. This is where up to 3,500 people take part in the Battle of the Oranges and pelt one another with about 400,000kg of Sicilian oranges. Can you say food fight?
So if you are a consummate gourmet, like to immerse yourself in different cultures or just like to eat out, you gotta check out this book!