Is it any wonder that so many travelers are also foodies? So much of the joy of travel is the quest for new sensations and experiences.
Travelers thrive on variety, and just as food lovers would get bored by meatloaf and potatoes, travelers get bored without the exhilaration of movement.
Not all foodie travelers can be on the road all the time, though, and that’s where these books come in.
Even when you’re stuck at home and eating meatloaf, all of these new food travel books can give you the vicarious pleasure of sampling exotic flavors in distant lands.
1) What I Eat by Peter Menzel and Faith D’aluisio
What I Eat combines fascinating photos of individuals from around the world and the food they eat with thoughtful essays about food politics and food culture. The overall effect is absolutely captivating.
This is the sort of book that you can leave lying around the house, knowing that curious guests will pick it up and get completely sucked in.
An excellent foreword by noted food safety expert Marion Nestle sets a serious tone that combines well with the pure pleasure of the gorgeous photographs.
2) India: The Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant
Now THIS is an ambitious book. India is a vast country, with an incredible diversity of cultures and cuisines.
Few authors are qualified to attempt such a comprehensive collection of Indian recipes, but Pushpesh Pant is definitely one of them.
It takes him almost 1,000 pages, but in the end he has produced a work of stunning scope and meticulous detail. If you love Indian food, this book should have a place in your library.
3) Twain’s Feast by Andrew Beahrs
Mark Twain is one of the best loved American writers of all time, but who knew he was also a 19th century foodie?
Andrew Beahrs combines in-depth historical research into Twain’s eating habits with his own field studies of regional American cuisine.
The sheer range of Twain’s culinary adventures is a surprising delight to the contemporary reader. Some of the foods he describes are still American favorites today, but others – like possum, croaker and Philadelphia terrapin – are a revelation.
4) The Town That Food Saved by Ben Hewitt
More place-based narrative than far-flung travelogue, The Town That Food Saved is nonetheless a fascinating exploration of local food’s potential to rejuvenate communities.
Ben Hewitt brings the curious eye of a traveler to his examination of the food economy of Hardwick, Vermont, a gritty town where farmers and entrepreneurs are working together to create a new model of local food production.
5) Boozehound, by Jason Wilson
Alcohol is one of the five major food groups, right?
Um, anyhow, Jason Wilson’s boozy masterpiece is a rollicking read. Wilson edits the Best American Travel Writing anthology, so you know he has an ear for entertaining travel narrative.
There is a lot of humor in Boozehound, and a collection of useful recipes rounds out the global tour of alcoholic delights.
6) The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof
Ann and her husband sail around the Caribbean searching for delicious food and meeting memorable local characters. Sounds like a tough life, huh.
The writing is smooth and personable, and although the book is a pleasant escape, there is also a wealth of fascinating and well-researched information about traditional Caribbean cuisine.
7) A Moveable Feast, edited by Don George
No, this isn’t the disappointing posthumously published Hemingway memoir. Rather, it’s a collection of food stories edited by Don George, one of travel writings most lovable personalities.
Contributors include all-star authors like Anthony Bourdain, Pico Iyer, Simon Winchester and Jan Morris, along with lesser-known writers who are nonetheless extremely talented, such as Karen Coates.
8) Bangkok Street Food by Tom Vandenberghe
Cheap, delicious and ubiquitous street food is one of my favorite things about Bangkok. From sticks of grilled chicken liver to spicy papaya salad, the options are invariably mouth-watering.
Bangkok street food deserves an encyclopedia, but Tom Vandenberghe’s knowledgeable and readable collection of recipes, with beautiful photographs and entertaining narrative, is a solid book-length start.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to book a ticket to Thailand…
9) Why Italians Love to Talk About Food by Elena Kostioukovitch
This is not a coffee-table or recipe book! The writing is a bit dense, but incredibly detailed and full of passion.
The author, a translator for Umberto Eco, is quite knowledgeable about regional Italian cuisine, and provides a delightful overview of the important role that food plays in Italian culture.
Devoted readers are rewarded by rich anecdotes that illuminate the cultural and culinary diversity of Italy.
10) Acquired Tastes by Massimo Marcone
Dr. Marcone travels the globe in search of weird and wacky regional delicacies like crunchy grasshoppers and seal-flipper pie. The writing is unpolished, but definitely enthusiastic, and infused with genuine curiosity.
Is travel food writing just a poor substitute for real-life experience? What other books would you add to this list? Post up your comments and let us know!
If you liked this, you might also like: 8 Superb Children’s Books About Travel.
Main image: Bangkok street food by drburtoni.
7 thoughts on “Top 10 Foodie Travel Books”
I am definitely going to pick up some of these books. It’s true what you say about people who travel are also “foodies” love that term! I am Italian, and the book Why Italians Love To Talk About Food really sounds good. I really do love to talk about food… So I am excited to get my hands on this book. Thanks for the list, these are really interesting.
I need to get my hands on all of these books. I would say when travelling I spend equal amounts of time sightseeing as searching for a great bite to eat, if not more food time in Italy. I usually go where the locals can be found and these guidebooks can hopefully point me in the right direction. I will always opt for what will be a unique and cost effective :) dining option while travelling, although with limits to what will probably make me immediately regret what I have ingested, snake blood, for example.
Great topic. I’m not Italian but I love to talk about food, too. And for me, traveling is as much about tasting new things as it is about seeing new places. Really interesting list here. Thanks!
Great list, all books must have, no doubt !