Extraordinary Places To Eat Around The Globe

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National Geographic wows again with the gorgeous Food Journeys of A Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe. This fully revised and updated second edition of its culinary travel masterwork, recently published, is an outsize, 320-page hardcover that brims with evocative images and insider info — an entertaining, enlightening read for both armchair and on-the-go travelers alike. Opening this book is like stepping through a wanderlust portal, embarking across six continents. Oh, the places you’ll go!

Glen Mutel, editor of National Geographic Traveller Food UK, pens an engaging introduction, jumpstarting with: “In Menorca, it was the sobrasada — the paprika-tinged, cured sausage so beloved in the Balearic Islands. Tasty by itself, it was often served smothered in sweet local honey…. In Marrakesh, it was the tiny plates of salad that preceded almost every meal — finely chopped tomato, cucumber and onion, all immersed in a minty vinaigrette…. I found these fresh little dishes a perpetual pick-me-up. In Nepal, it was dal bhat…. This wonderfully balanced assortment of lentils, rice, vegetables and pickles soon began to feel like all I would ever want. My memories of it are as vivid as those of surrounding peaks. For each of these experiences, it takes very little effort to put myself back in touch with these flavors. It’s as if my tongue has a memory. But food memories are often so multidimensional, which is perhaps why they can loom so large. They call to mind a moment, yes, but also a taste, an aroma, a location, a feeling or even faces — of those who did the cooking, the serving, the recommending or the sharing. Whatever your reasons for traveling, food has a way of defining a trip…it’s the thing that makes everything feel different.” Encounters described in this book are “designed to open your mind, broaden your palate and inspire you to prioritize your taste buds on your next trip,” he says.

The “Remarkable Markets” chapter applauds outstanding food bazaars. It is mesmerizing to meander gargantuan halls that are stacked high with a wide range of palate-pleasers, as well as to stroll outdoor shopping destinations, such as the floating markets of Thailand. The “Seasonal Delights” chapter pinpoints regional fruits, veggies and seafood that are heralded for their ideally timed ripeness. The “In the Kitchen” chapter peers behind the scenes and promotes a fun way to get to know local residents. “For food lovers,” muses Mutel, “the heart of the action is always in the kitchen. When they travel, no amount of sightseeing can equal the chance to visit a local chef’s workplace or private home…. For travelers like these, one of the happiest recent developments in tourism is the emergence of small cookery schools that welcome foreign guests for informal, hands-on classes.” This section is replete with recipes, food tours and cooking lessons. Roll up your sleeves for New Mexico’s chilis; Vietnam’s staple nuớc mắm (fish sauce); India’s spiced paneer (buffalo or cow milk soft cheese); Jordan’s tender lamb served with almond rice; Greece’s meze, including dolmas (stuffed grape vine leaves); northern Italy’s vegetable soups, focaccia bread, rosemary-redolent beef seared over charcoal fire; and Morocco’s preserved lemons. In France, you can enroll in one-day classes at Paris’s preeminent Le Cordon Bleu institution, as well as swoon over the intoxicating scents and flavors shared on the terrace of Café de France restaurant in the hilltop village of Lacoste in the Luberon mountainous region of Provence.

The “Favorite Street Foods” chapter cheers swift-yet-satisfying snacks and meals, such as those from multicultural New York City’s pushcarts and food trucks, whose vendors fork Greek gyros, Mexican tacos, German pretzels, Egyptian falafel and Chinese cheung fun (broad rice noodles wrapped around a filling of meat, seafood or vegetables). Among the book’s notable al fresco choices are Philadelphia’s cheese steaks and New Orleans’s po’ boy, muffuletta and oyster loaf sandwiches. Also eye Ghent’s hot, crispy french fries dolloped with mayo; the North of England’s fish and chips, often cooked in beef drippings; Singapore’s fantastic fusion of Chinese, Indian and Malay ingredients, ladled out of hawker stalls; Bangkok’s egg noodles and shrimp balls; Nigeria’s efo elegusi (veggie soup); and Sri Lanka’s curry and dosas (rice and lentil pancakes). Perhaps the most high-quality European finger food is Venice’s legendary cicchetti — joyfully consumed morsels often crafted on crusty bread (see photo, above) or a stick. They are widely available in bàcari (bars), typically eaten while standing and sipping a modest glass of regional wine. Popular are mantecato (whipped creamed cod); arancini (stuffed rice balls); polpette (spicy meatballs); cream cheese with truffle; and marinated sardines with onions, pine nuts and sultanas (seedless grapes). Or, instead of Venice’s local wines (Pinot Grigio and Soave), choose a classic Venetian Spritz — an orange-hued cocktail prepared with one part Aperol (Italian apéritif), two parts prosecco (Italian sparkling white wine), a splash of soda, plus an orange slice and olive. Toasting requires a big gesture in Italian culture, so be ready to acclaim Viva l’Italia! and Salute! with fellow bar-goers.

The “Great Food Towns” chapter praises iconic foodie hot spots. Relish Montreal’s Québécois sustenance: poutine (french fries covered with cheese curds and brown gravy), tarte au sucre (sugar pie) and smoked meats. Consider Rio de Janeiro’s feijoada (thick broth with black beans and meat). Buenos Aires’s substantial steaks. Beijing’s wood-fired crackling roast duck and steamed dumplings (see photo, above). Hong Kong’s gratifying dim sum bites. Cape Town’s pumpkin fritters. Naples’s aromatic pizzas. Athens’s grilled seafood. Copenhagen’s open-faced smørrebrød — usually thin slices of buttered brown bread, topped with savory ingredients, such as smoked fish; pickled cucumbers, bacon and mushrooms; or herring with egg yolk, grated radishes and chives. Honolulu’s Polynesian food, such as poi (a thick paste made from the taro root), lau lau (pork and butterfish wrapped in taro leaves and baked), poké (raw cubed fish) and shaved ice (frequently drizzled with fruit syrup) are always in demand. San Antonio’s zingy Tex-Mex platters are heaped with shredded cheese, beans, chili peppers, meat and tortillas. Hearty cassoulet (white bean-and-meat stew) is exalted in three French cities: Carcassonne, Castelnaudary and Toulouse. And, in New York City’s borough of Queens, where more than 140 languages are spoken by a melting pot heritage of people, cooks turn to recipes from their families’ original homelands, such as India’s masala dosa and uttapam pancakes; Thailand’s tom kha gai soup and Panang curry; and Jamaica’s jerk chicken.

The chapter “Ultimate Luxuries” features fanciest bucket list pursuits. Michelin-starred restaurants are lauded, such as New York City’s fabulously fish-centric Le Bernardin, sublimely helmed by Chef Éric Ripert; Chicago’s Alinea, where Chef Grant Achatz, wondrously wizard-like, has reinvented foods’ flavors, textures, scents and shapes with molecular gastronomy and inimitable imagination; and Copenhagen’s Noma, led by Chef René Redzepi, whose unique fermentation lab conjures flavors that are not found elsewhere.

Drink up suggestions in the thirst-quenching and spirit-refreshing “Best Wine, Beer and More” chapter. Explore wine tasting tours of esteemed vineyards and wineries in France. Delve into California’s Sonoma Valley; Washington State’s Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley; Switzerland’s terraced hillscapes of Lavaux; Argentina’s Mendoza region; South Africa’s Western Cape; Australia’s Barossa Valley; Spain’s La Rioja region; Italy’s Piedmont area, which nurtures noble Nebbiolo grapes, and its Tuscany region, which heralds Sangiovese grapes. Sample Portugal’s fortified port wine from the Douro Valley. Whisky lover? Join a pilgrimage to single malt havens on Scotland’s Isle of Islay and in the countryside near Japan’s city of Sapporo. Swirl along the heady Kentucky Bourbon Trail, officially delineated with stops at famed distilleries. Gin connoisseur? Be gladly surprised by the Netherlands’ jenever. Learn about Mexico’s mescal, Peru’s pisco, Brazil’s cachaça, Japan’s sake and the Caribbean’s rum (especially in Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico and Saint Lucia). Microbreweries in Oregon are the vanguard of beer ingenuity these days. Enjoy, too, beer in Germany’s Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Center; Belgium’s Bruges, which stocks more than 300 beer varieties; Munich’s Oktoberfest revelry; and Greenland’s cool glacial beer.

“A great dessert is a surefire way to enhance the sum of human happiness,” writes Mutel. “Craving for sweetness is hardwired into us.” The “Just Desserts” chapter entices aplenty. Key lime pie from Florida’s Key West. Shoofly and huckleberry pies from Pennsylvania’s Amish country. Afternoon tea treats — scones and dainty cakes — in Hong Kong. Confections in the winding bazaars of Istanbul. Superb gelato in Rome. Marzipan in Sicily. Velvety chocolates in Brussels. Devon cream and jam in England. And mango-infused kulfi, a frozen dairy treat scooped for visitors to Mumbai’s Chowpatty Beach. France, of course, is a dessert mecca. Its patisseries arouse sugared passions, such as tarte tartins, charlotte aux framboises, mille-feuilles, madeleines and scores more. Its confiseries artfully sculpt spun sugar, lavish exacting attention on bonbons and extol the tradition of lavender-honey-pistachio nougat, particularly in Provence’s Montélimar.

Woven throughout this book are helpful “10 Best” round-ups, such as “Cheese Tours of France,” “Historic Food Shops,” “Old-Fashioned Candy Stores,” “Places to Try Open-Fire Cooking,” “Culinary Surprises,” “Unusual Food and Drink Festivals” and “Ultimate Vegan Restaurants.”

Whether you’re fantasizing about sun-kissed vistas as you cocoon at home this winter or seek specific ideas to spark 2023 vacation plans, Food Journeys of a Lifetime expertly delivers.

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