Lonely Planet travel guides have long been reliable introductions to
the more interesting and often remote corners of the globe. They've
accompanied me on many journeys and more than proved their worth as
a rich source of topical insights into the geographical, historical
and social backbone of at least a dozen far-flung destinations.
'The Food Lover's Guide To The World' is a substantial, large-format
hardback which examines the ingredients and cuisine to be found at the
heart of a wide range of countries and cultures. It is chock full of
absorbing photographs and fascinating indigenous recipes from Europe,
Australasia, the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia and Latin America.
There are lots of good tips about what to eat and where. Cassoulet and
bouillabaisse from France; Mayan pork from Mexico; Tagines from Morocco;
Bhelpuri (little savoury street snacks) from India and even the humble but
no-less-worthy Cornish pasty. A veritable cornucopia of culinary delights.
Recommended to both ambitious cooks and seasoned travelers alike.
This is an attractively presented book and is a further example of Lonely Planet's foray into a wider publishing agenda than just the guide books on which they have built their reputation. It would be reasonable to describe this as a coffee table book as it is the sort of volume which is traditionally given as a present, and after a perusal is likely to attractively grace the library shelf for many years but to be rarely consulted again.
This is really quite a wide mixture of food and travel ideas. The cuisines of 14 countries are considered, in particular a few of the main dishes, some recipes, festivals and the recommended restaurant for eating each of these specialities. The latter I found really questionable as it is doubtful whether, for example, one in a thousand readers at most will find their way to 93 Wuji East Road, Furong District, Hunan to sample their red cooked pork. This presentation really gives only a very limited coverage of individual countries. For example, France with its world renowned cuisine merits just half a dozen recipes and some thoughts on cheese, bread, escargots etc together with the main food related festivals.
Additionally nine regions are considered, one of which is The British Isles. The presentation is similar to the individual countries. Further sections of the book look at specific subjects such as `The Breakfast of Champions' which highlights ten outstanding breakfasts around the world.
Whilst there is certainly fascinating information contained here, the main issue is that it is all so eclectic that as soon as your attention has been engaged we move onto something completely different. Lonely Planet's efforts to diversify are to be applauded but I think they need to be a bit more focused in their subject matter if this sort of book is really to work well. For example, a book with a similar layout, but limited to, for example The Americas may well be much more interesting and informative than trying to cover the whole world in one go.
When people consider where they might like to travel, there are some that put culinary considerations quite high on the list. Our household falls into that category; we love to travel to places where we can explore the cuisine as well as the culture, history and geography. So this book makes a very happy addition to the coffee-table collection for inspiring future escapades and remembering past ones.
The book provides a great introduction to the foods and dishes of different countries as well as which restaurants to find them in and which local cookery schools to consider if you are hoping to learn how to bring them home.
It offers a calendar of food festivals if you're trying to plan the best time to visit and recipes to help you reproduce what you tasted. In usual Lonely Planet style, they have also mined history for the unusual and amusing factoid - such as how French monks persuaded the Catholic church to classify frogs as fish so that they could appear on the meatless fast menu!
As seems to be in fashion at the moment, the book is printed on matte paper with a kind of flecking in the print. Personally I find that it doesn't do the photos any favours, resulting in a flattened and slightly lifeless result. This is a shame as the Lonely Planet have collected some quite striking photos within. Had it been just a little more vibrant and photographic, it could have been elevated to a wider market of coffee-table books rather than remaining a bit of a niche hybrid.
on 18 February 2013
Call me old fashioned, but a book should have a function; be it to entertain, inform, inspire or aid. `Food Lover's Guide to the World' by Lonely Planet does all these things, but also does none of them. If ever there was a book that screams quality, but can't decide what it is meant to be `Food Lover' is it. Am I reading a travelogue, cook book or encyclopaedia? I ended up reading all three, but thinking that I could have found better examples of all of them elsewhere.
Inside this book you are taken on a trip around the world that seems pretty random at times. You are told a little about the country, what types of food they likes to eat and then some more detail. You may be given an in-depth description of a local bread or stew, but not how to cook it. There are recipes in this book, but the majority are relegated to the sides of the page and are not detailed enough to really tackle some of the complex flavours they propose. Swapping the lonelypedia sections for the recipes would have made it a more useful book for me.
This is not to say that everything is bad with `Food Lover', it is a well-crafted hardback that is beautiful to look at. There are plenty of photographs inside that will make your mouth water. If you are someone who can afford a coffee table book that has a quite random remit, you could find `Food Lover's Guide to the World' a decent purchase. Everyone else will be out buying the recipe books to actually cook the things they read about in this book.
This book is quite large and heavy, so very much a coffee table book rather than a portable guide.
The scope of the book is clearly very large, covering 14 countries, and then, not satisfied with that it covers 9 regions!
So what is the point of this book? Well I enjoyed dipping into it from time to time, and found quite a lot of interest. For example some of the ways of serving and asking for coffees in different countries. On reading, one might be tempted to visit a country, having learned a bit more about its cuisine. I guess it is almost like having the "eating" sections of a great pile of Lonely Planet guides by your side. The inclusion of featured restaurants, must be rather arbitrary - I took these to be indicative of a style of venue, rather than trying to be an eating out guide.
So I think if you set your expectations that this is a rather ambitiously scoped overview guide that is fun to be read and will contain plenty of rather random interest, but is not a focused guide - then you won't be disappointed. It would make a good present for a "foodie" if you can't think of anything else suitable!
We all know why we buy the excellent Lonely Planet guides when we are travelling - most of us would not considering venturing to unfamiliar destinations without one (or one of their competitors' books) but what exactly is the point of this book? It is certainly handsomely produced - a coffee table book if ever there was one - but who is it aimed at?
From the traveller's point of view, it covers so much ground (14 different specific countries and 9 regions) that the analysis of each country is inevitably superficial and its 'where to eat' suggestions cover just a handful of of restaurants over a whole country or sub-continent (five restaurants, for instance, to represent all of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Tibet).
From a cook's perspective, there aren't really enough recipes from each region to construct a meal, so it does not work as a cook book. As well as 'countries' and 'regions' there is a section called 'global eating', sub-divided into categories like 'cheese', 'breakfast', 'chocolate' and 'Africa' (why that is not regarded as a 'region' I have no idea). Again, these sections are too skimpy to be of much use - four illustrated pages to cover all the cheese of the world, for example.
However good this book looks I have to conclude it is really rather ill-conceived. It is a book that you might buy hastily as a gift but not one you would ever buy yourself.
The 320 page "Food Lover's Guide to the World" from Lonely Planet is a marvelous though somewhat arbitrary look at cuisine around the world. This is a mix of Travel Guide and Gastronomic exploration; it is not a recipe book. The book is split into 2 main sections Countries & Regions, with boxes on Global Cuisine (Cheese, Coffee, Chocolate, etc) interspersed throughout. 14 countries are included in the first section, most of these are well known for their cuisine but this is a selective view by the authors who then go on to cover another 9 or so Regions. I suspect that they hope this will encapture most cuisines around the world. But like any book of this type, it is limited by size and scope thus presenting a subjective view that not everyone will agree with. This shouldn't put you off from what is an interesting and well written book.
This is a big book - A4 sort of size and hardcover - that would look lovely on the coffee table. Divided into chapters that relate primarily to countries and their cuisine (but also some regions), it delves into the iconic foodstuffs from each area. There are ideas about where to go if you're in that country to sample the best on offer; gives background and historical information on the foods themselves, and ways to cook with the foods to recreate some of the culinary delights when you're back home.
It's a lovely book; well-written and with some great pictures. It would make a good gift for a foodie or a traveller, or for yourself to just flick through on a grim day in England to remind you of that baguette/paella/burrito you had when you were in that little town on your travels.
This has been a favorite read over the Christmas period - full of gorgeous pictures to inspire the traveller and foodie alike ! I love the way the book is split into sections according to different criteria - regions, particular foods etc.. typical of lonely planet and always a hit. The information is really well presented, very descriptive and really whets the appetite. I also like the up to date information on markets and festivals - just in case you happen to be in the area ! Not enough info for a guide book but perfect as a coffee table browser.
I don't know what or who this book is for. If you think about it, an food lover's guide to the world is an enormous subject - far too large for one, admittedly sizeable volume. So, what will it cover and what does it leave out?
The editor of the magazine, Saveur, has written a foreword explaining how he came to love travelling and eating food in its place of origin. The introduction, Travel to Eat, by Mark Bittman, takes this theme further, explaining how one discovers a place through its food, and admirable as many of them are, 'foreign' (his quotation marks) food restaurants just do not convey true authenticity because, although the food experience may be very accurate, the surrounding ambience, the journey to and from etc will not be genuine.
The book is now divided into sections:
1. Countries - China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, USA
2. Global Eating: Cheese, Breakfast of Champions, Chocolate, Africa, The World's Best Food Markets, The World's Best Restaurants.
Although these are listed separately they are scattered through the text.
3. Regions - Australia and New Zealand, The British Isles, The Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Latin America, The Middle East, Northern Europe, South East Asia, The Subcontinent
4. Global Eating: Coffee, Jewish Dishes (again these are scattered through the text)
6. Acknowledgements - here, among other credits, is the list of authors of each section
I couldn't work out the criteria which decided which countries were dealt with separately and which were lumped in as parts of regions. It was not the quality of the cuisine - I don't think Greece, Germany or Mexico would qualify as world leaders in food; nor was it geographical homogeneity - both China and the USA encompass vast cultural and geographical differences. The listings in the sections were alphabetical - surely not the most useful method of grouping them.
The text is interesting. For example in the Indian section (sixteen pages long) there are descriptions of kababs, samosas, jalebis, paan, bhelpuri, spices, masala chai, breads and biryani. After most of these descriptions there is the name and address of a restaurant where you can sample the best. India is a huge place and unless you know it well, these recommendations are not going to mean much. There are also three recipes: butter chicken, pork vindaloo and Hyderabadi biryani.
All the sections follow this rough pattern. Some also contain lists of festivals or other cultural information. The sections on the World's Best Restaurants and Markets are brief and arbitrary - from my rather limited knowledge of the world's best restaurants I was surprised by some inclusions and very surprised by some omissions.
The most obvious omission in the book is maps. There no maps! Anything that styles itself as a guide to the world needs maps. This is not just nit-picking - as you read through the book the need for maps to make the text meaningful becomes more and more blatant.
So, what is the purpose of this book? It looks beautiful - lots of lovely pictures. It is quite interesting. But it is expensive (£29.99 full price) and completely superficial. Anyone who has a genuine interest in travelling and food would not bother with this book. They would decide what country/food they were interested in and find a specialist book that would give them valuable, useable information. There are other much better travel/cook books on the market.