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An ambitious premise for even the most devoted foodie: Travel the world to eat.

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

In the introduction to Food Journeys of a Lifetime, Keith Bellows, National Geographic Traveler editor-in-chief, considers a meal abroad as an exercise in cultural immersion:

“What people eat, when they eat it, where and how they source the food, what gastronomic rituals they observe, all offer telling insights into a place and its people.”

And it is as true in Boston and Tennessee as elsewhere on the globe.

Feed all your desires with Food Journeys of a Lifetime, organized by clever categories including Favorite Street Foods, Great Food Towns, Seasonal Delights and Outstanding Markets.

For insular Americans, it’s surprising to realize how small the U.S. is when you explore the book’s rich global cuisine. There’s no reason to travel and take our old eating habits with us, searching for the nearest burger. Travel is the time to explore the food of different lands. A foodie pilgrimage might take you to Spain to explore gastronomic pleasures and to the delights hidden in centuries-old shops of Paris, such as Maille, an old wood-lined mustard shop, unchanged since 1747 on Place de la Madeleine.

Open this gorgeous book and feed your senses. Food Journeys of a Lifetime is an orgy of food and travel, to satisfy any appetite on a global journey. What National Geographic accomplished in publishing this massive book is a stunning tribute to the gastronomic pleasures that await eager travels. As in any National Geographic production, the book contains stunning full 9" x 12” color photos, along with a few recipes if you can’t arrange to travel for your next meal. There are also generous lists, including bike tours, kitchen gardens, and the best of the world’s beer and wine.

Whether experiencing octopus in Osaka or your first taste of shojin ryori in a Buddhist temple, this huge treasure will provide memories to last a lifetime for those who’ve traveled well, and create an impetus to plan to experience some of these fascinating places. On my travels, I make an effort to avoid eating in corporate franchise restaurants. I seek out neighborhood places anywhere in the world. Yet when our travels are ruled by hunger and we don’t have such an inspiring travel book, we miss the opportunity for these rare, accessible treats.

Food Journeys of a Lifetime will satisfy your lust for lists, and includes a sprinkling of recipes here and there for very approachable dishes. Highlights also include travel tips, indicating the best time of year to go, whether you want to pick white tea leaves in China or harvest tender figs in turkey. Food Journeys of a Lifetime respects the cultures who still cultivate and enjoy food only when it is ripe, not when it’s flown halfway around the world. The ‘season’ for ripe is cause for celebration

The journeys and experiences include only a few that are outrageous and beyond the reach of the average traveler. The “7 Ultimate Luxuries” might include the $1,000 meal you’ll talk about for years. But just as many of the book's suggestions are luxury of a different kind: purchasing food from the floating market boats in Thailand or joining in on a Spanish tradition of harvesting saffron from fields of crocus flowers in La Mancha.

Gastronomic pleasures while traveling offer the rare combination of experiencing and tasting cultures who’s customs span centuries. You’ll return home with memories of your first taste of exotic food or quite ordinary food in an exotic locale. For the armchair traveler and those who’ve already experienced life’s richness while traveling, Food Journeys of a Lifetime is equally enriching.

Review copy courtesy of the
National Geographic.

About Helen Gallagher

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