A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
Life-changing food adventures around the world
By Tricia Brown
Chefs, food critics, poets and travel writers – some of them bestselling, some never published before – all contribute to this literary feast edited by Don George and published by Lonely Planet.
Don George is the editor of four previous Lonely Planet literary anthologies and has received dozens of awards for his writing. He is delighted to be the host at this table – a 38-course feast of true tales set around the world. "Food delights us, food unites us, food embodies the soil, the sea and the weather, the farmer's sweat and the fisherman's toil. But as these tales and my own edible adventures reveal, food is only part of a feast."
As any traveller knows, the best food experience, the most joyous, the unforgettable, is not necessarily about scoring a table at one of the top ten restaurants in the world or worshipping at the altar of multicourse molecular gastronomy. It can however be something so simple like sharing a bowl of pasta while sitting on the terrace in the warm sun and in the company of new or old friends. It is often not planned but "can leap into your life when you least expect it, anywhere."
This starts me thinking of my own favourite food memories and there are many. Included are a few 'big name' restaurants but mostly little places happened upon with food so good you want to go back there many times, noisy fun 'cookathons' with family and friends, tasting 'real" olive oil for the first time (after picking the olives and seeing it processed), that peanut butter sandwich after a morning at the beach...
Of course the most memorable does not necessarily mean good! "It can be awful or ambrosial – and sometimes both at the same time."
So it is with A Moveable Feast – Life-changing food adventures around the world. The contributions are a mixed bag of delights and horrors – from eating bat's penis on the island of Fais to searching for the perfect barbecued ribs in the American heartland, from gagging on durian in the Pacific islands to an extraordinary tea ceremony in the snowy Himalayas – though all are entertaining.
American chef David Lebovitz, having lived in France for more than a decade, writes about French cuisine and changes in the industry (Les Tendances Culinaires) and rather disturbingly relates that France is the fastest growing market for McDonald's in the world as well as three French cheeses disappear each year.
I love Pico Iyer's thoughtful essay (Daily Bread) on the meaning of life and its connection with food while he is on retreat in a Benedictine hermitage. "I would rather, as Thoreau might have muttered, eat a hunk of bread with a friend over good conversation, in a place of beauty such as this, than suffer through a multicourse opera at El Bulli."
Food writer and blogger, Anita Breland, inspired by a meal in Morocco (Couscous and Camaraderie), put away her measuring cups and worried less about perfecting a dish after experiencing homely hospitality and such generosity of spirit in a rural kitchen as to warm her heart.
William Sertl, a former Gourmet editor, is someone who likes to come home smarter than before he left (Cooking with Donna) and in particular 'bearing a new recipe – always a recipe, for food is the key to culture, the easiest way into a relationship with folks you've yet to meet."
Our very own MasterChef judge, Matt Preston, offers up his account of eating at El Bulli (A Pilgrimage to El Bulli), perhaps the most wonderful meal of his life.
"But," writes Matthew Fort (Dorego's), "food isn't about frills and fancy gear and plate poetry. Food is about time and place and people and memory, people and memory most of all." Dorego's may not be on everyone's 'must visit' list but it certainly sounds memorable!
I think the last words though belong to Jim Benning (Tijuana Terroir) – 'To eat ethnic food in the place that gave it life, and to immerse oneself in the history and culture of that place, can transform an otherwise mundane meal into an extraordinary experience. It's why cappuccino tastes richer and creamier in Italy; why bratwurst is more satisfying in Germany. By my lights, it's reason enough to travel."
A Moveable Feast edited by Don George is published by Lonely Planet Publications (2010; RRP A$29.99). Subscribers of VisitVineyards.com and Winepros Archive can purchase A Moveable Feast at 12.5% discount via our book partners Seekbooks (postage extra).
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