Saturday, December 31, 2022

Gastro Obscura

Title:  Gastro Obscura:  A Food Adventurer's Guide
Author:  Cecily Wong. Dylan Thuras. Atlas Obscura
Publication Information:  Workman Publishing Company. 2020. 448 pages.
ISBN:  1523502193 / 978-1523502196

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Eating may be the most immersive visceral travel experience."

Favorite Quote:  "We have always believed that wonder can be found wherever you are open to searching for it."

Atlas Obscura is a crowd-sourced database of place and foods current numbering at over 25,000. The project began as the brain child of Dylan Thuras and Joshua For. It was an effort to "inspire wonder and curiosity about the incredible world we all share." It began with places not found in ordinary guidebooks and perhaps off the beaten path. It expanded in 2017 to include exploration through food. It has since beyond writing its reach into education and travel. At this point, they are "a publisher of best-in-class journalism about hidden places, incredible history, scientific marvels, and gastronomical wonders."

This book, as the title suggests, is about food but more than that "it's a collection of forgotten histories and endangered traditions, obscure experiences, culinary ingenuity, and edible wonders." It traverses the globe. The book is laid out by region:  Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, Canada, United States, Latin America, and Antartica! Each section is further divided geographically. Within each smaller section, each entry is about half a page - some longer, a few shorter. Each is titled by the topic, followed by the location, following by a half-page description of history and evolution. An offset identifies "how to try it." Images accompany some of the entries. 

You can read the book beginning to end, pick up and read an entry or two, or use the included index to look for something specific.

I have followed Atlas Obscura for a while. As a lover of travel and food, the gastronomic aspect immediately appeals to me. Food is a universal language and a part of every life occasion happy and sad. Food brings people together. In a world so divided, it is wonderful to see every effort to identify that which unites us. Though the foods from other parts of the world may seem unfamiliar, the emotion, love and sense of heritage embedded in each item is universal. 

In the past few years when travel has been limited, the ability to armchair travel has become even more important. This book takes us around the world. It is also a reminder that "wonder can be found around every corner - not just in uncharted and far-flung locales but down the street, down some stairs, into the Victorian-era public toilet that now houses a London coffee bar. While travel is a beautiful way of seeking wonder, you'll find within these pages that adventures don't always require a planet ticket ... wondrous food is everywhere."

This book is one that will sit nearby and that I will pick up time and again to peruse. I look forward to that and to seeing what new adventures this team uncovers.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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