Food Journeys of a Lifetime: book review

Sight, taste, sound, scent, and imagination: food engages all of these. A walk through a market, sharing a cup of tea, checking out the brands on grocery shelves half way across the world — or even halfway across the country or halfway across town — becomes both a taste of food and a taste of culture. That’s the idea that underpins the writing and photography in National Geographic’s Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe. If you like to cook or like to eat, if you stay close to home or travel widely, there’ s likely to be something to intrigue.

There are nine sections, including Ingredients, Outstanding Markets, Seasonal Delights, and Great Food Towns. Within each section — they are thirty to forty pages long — each idea, place or event gets an individual page, with a photograph, a few paragraphs of narrative, a short sidebar on something related, and a brief practical section on travel suggestions about where and when to go for the best experience, and web sites to consult.

It is a varied journey, with, for example, entries on home eating in Cuba, the best modern cuisine in Edinburgh, California’s artisanal cheeses, and Cairo’s Khan el Khalili market. There are also occasional ten best list pages, such as ten best national dishes, ten best cheese tours of France, ten best historic food shops, and the like. Given that all this information is gathered from the resources of National Geographic, the standard of writing and photography is high; given that it is that sort of project, some articles and photographs work better than others. That said, you want to keep turning the pages to see what comesnext. Both the writing and the photography are likely to inspire travels on the road, travels to the kitchen, and sharing memories about great food experiences..

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