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Book Review: Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe by National Geographic

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Reading through the book Food Journeys of a Lifetime brought back memories of my time at home when I would meet with my friends once a week, where we would cook an elaborate dinner featuring a different country, or region of the world. What was to become “around the world” night unfortunately ended when I moved to the other side of the state. I’ve always had a fascination and love for exotic and new tastes from different points around the globe.

Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe is a must have for the world traveler. Keith Bellows, the Editor-In-Chief of National Geographic Traveler’s magazine, says in his introduction, “a meal abroad is more than an intake of calories; it’s an exercise in cultural immersion.” The photography included within the pages is spectacular. Almost every page is filled with images from around the world that make your mouth water. The pictures aren’t always of mouth watering food, some are of places one can only dream about visiting: an underwater restaurant in the Maldives, Irish pubs, floating restaurants in Mauritius, and what can only be described as a “dining experience” in a Parisian train station.

Food Journeys of a Lifetime also includes several recipes. Food from all parts of the world are highlighted in the recipes: an Indian speciality, spiced paneer; Thai cucumber salad; Jamaican jerk sauce; and Welsh rarebit. None of the recipes look overly challenging for a novice in the kitchen. Ingredients included in the recipes are not difficult to find at a local specialty market and should make for a delightful “around the world” dinner party.

Within each of the nine sections of Food Joureys of a Lifetime are several top ten lists. “Literary Watering Holes” tells of the Cheshire Cheese in London which lists Charles Dickens, Voltaire, and Mark Twain as past patrons. The list of Historic Restaurants names the Union Oyster House in Boston, Massachusetts as its number one. Though the Union Oyster House is the oldest continually existing restaurants in the United States, there are several restaurants that date back to the 14th, 17th and 19th century. As with any top ten list, there are a million different ways a million different people could write the list. The lists are generally good, but it would have been nice to see some less known, extraordinary places to eat around the world.

In fact, I did not see many entries in the book from African destinations. Other than Ghana, Morrocco, and South Africa, the continent of 54 countries featured only a fraction of their culinary culture, which is unfortunate.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Food Journeys of a Lifetime. The photographs included were amazing, bringing you to the destination or the food being talked about. I would recommend this book to anyone with a taste for food of the world or an interest in travel. There are definitely a few new destinations I will be adding to my list and more than a few recipes that I’ll consider for a future “around the world” dinner.

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About Brit Linstrom