Armchair Travel for Foodies: A Bookshelf

I love to travel — well, not the airport part and increasingly not the airliner part. But the being there part. And I love to eat, learn about food, share what I’ve learned and then get up and do it all again the next day. These dual passions are very much at the heart of what I do. I write for both food and travel websites,  have a segment on the Jones on Food and Travel radio show, run the Fabulous Foodie blog as well as the Fabulous Foodie Facebook group and run a travel blog called Greater Gotham Going Global.

Sadly, like most people, I can’t always travel when I want (must try harder to win that lottery) and so I end up doing a lot of ‘armchair travel’ when not banking actual travel miles.

Luckily, there are a lot of other food and travel lovers with a passion and skill for writing who have shared their culinary wisdom. So there’s lots of material (travel guides, essays and memoirs, great cookbooks with a heavy helping of travel included, tv tie-ins, even inspirational fiction) to get us on our way – both in reality and virtually.

Food Trails  – the Lonely Planet people have been at this ‘guide’ thing a long time and they are always worth putting on the prep list for any trip. I was delighted to see a whole range of titles devoted to culinary tourism under a sub-imprint called Lonely Planet Food. And if you’re a street food fan (as both ModParlPhotos and I are), you’ll want to grab their The World’s Best Street Food: Where to Find it & How to Make it as well.  It even has recipes so you can have a bit of the experience even if you haven’t left your living room.

Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe this isn’t so much a guide as a full on visual feast. Which makes complete sense when you realize it has been produced by National Geographic. Yes, it has suggestions and descriptions of what to see and where but the reason I would choose this specifically in hardcover (where as with other guides I’d be more than happy with paperback and eBook) is the quality and beauty of the photography.

1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List – yup, this is exactly what you think it is. The food version of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (interesting side note – I indexed 1,000 Places to See Before You Die years ago. Fascinating gig. Of course, I also worked on the indexes for the 75th Anniversary edition of Joy of Cooking – which was particularly interesting. I shall have to write that up one day.)

Roadfood, 10th Edition: An Eater’s Guide to More Than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America – if I love travel, I love road trips almost more than any other kind. One of these days I shall write up what happened when ModParlPhotos and I drove around the outer edge of Scotland. We also have a US cross country drive on our bucket list so this book is definitely one we will consult when the time comes

My Life in France – the bestselling story of Julia Child’s’ years living in France is not only a great read (as well as being the basis for ‘Julia’ half of the movie Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Speaking of which, if you were pondering a foodie movie weekend, Julie & Julia is a great choice for such a list.

The Hundred-Foot Journey – the book that became the hunger-inducing The Hundred-Foot Journey movie starring Helen Mirren (another foodie movie to revel in).

Can one really discuss food travel (written or otherwise) without mentioning tv tie-ins? I guess one could but I can’t. Anthony Bourdain is – perhaps – the clearest example of this. Television series after television series (the names and networks changed but the premise didn’t) saw him travel the world eating. Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover and the latest, current show – Parts Unknown. I could – and probably will do a whole post on food travel TV. More than one may be necessary when you consider how many shows there are – the Bourdain collection, Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Food programs, Alton Brown’s Feasting on Asphalt, that kind of thing. But this is about books and it was with a book that Bourdain first caught our attention and he continues to put them out.

As you put together your amrchair travel bookshelf, grab either A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal or No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach, both published in conjunction with the shows of the same name). No they are not, strictly speaking, guides but you’ll still get some great ideas on where to go, what to try and what to expect from both.

There’s no end to the books I could and would recommend for the ultimate Foodie Bookshelf so you can expect I will have updates and addendums to this list as new titles come out and I discover books among the publishers backlist and in used bookstores around the area.


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