Food and travel reading treats

By Thang Ngo

Lonely Planet has been the constant companion for travellers the world over. As airfares plummet, people are travelling more regularly and Lonely Planet travel guides have helped tentative or time poor punters get everything they need to know about their destination in one compact soft cover. What to see/do, where to stay and of course, what to eat are must-have features of every Lonely Planet guide, whether it’s the accessible US of A or relatively undiscovered Myanmar.

A fork in the Road lonely planetIt’s only a matter of time before Lonely Planet branched out to food related publishing. Last year’s The World’s Best Street Food was a runaway success. So it’s not surprising they’re following it up with A Fork in the Road, 34 morsels by renowned, food-obsessed writers and chefs. Edited by James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur, one of America’s most acclaimed food magazine. He asks leading travel writers, food critics and chefs from around the world to share their live-changing food experiences.

It makes interesting reading.

With A Fork in the Road, readers get a smorgasbord of stories written in different styles – writers recant their stories with flowing, zippy prose while chefs bring to life their love of food using more straight-forward writing. Some stories are sweet like TV host and author, Martin Yan‘s food epiphany as a 4 year old under the kitchen table, while others are bitter sweet, like author, Francine Prose‘s family dinner in the south of France.

Sometimes it’s about the little things like Times of London restaurant critic, Giles Coren’s childhood fascination with American food, particularly Hostess Twinkies. Journalist, filmaker and author, Sandi Tan‘s account of her adventures with Filipina step mum, a former action movie star, who introduced her to the vibrant colours and taste of chilli squid, is vivid and engrossing.

Aussie readers will enjoy Australian chef and TV personality, Curtis Stone‘s affectionate coming of age story that takes him across Europe.

But it’s author and bloggers Jane and Michael Stern’s quirky tale of an all naked diner in Roselawn, Indiana that’s my favourite. Their contribution, about the dream of Dick Drost, “crippled and twisted with muscular dystrophy, he whizzed around… in a motorized wheelchair with a raccoon tail dangling in the back”. Drost dreamed big, of being a catalyst for nudist colonies around the world. But in the end, all that’s left is the run-down Adam and Eve diner where the chefs and waiters are sans clothes. Their writing is brilliantly funny, avoiding condescension.

A Fork in the Road is an easy read, with short, entertaining chapters made for travelling or for arm chair travellers. These 34 bite-sized pieces are like canapes that satisfy yet still leave you wanting more. Food and travel go sooooo well together.

A Fork in the Road: Great food tales from around the globe is published by Lonely Planet, out 5 November 2013.

Noodlies, Sydney food blog thanks to the lovely folks at Lonely Planet, ANZ for a review copy.