Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide

Workman Sept. 2021. 448p. ISBN 9781523502196. $40. COOKING
Wong (writer, Atlas Obscura online magazine) and Thuras (cofounder and creative director, Atlas Obscura) have written a hard-to-pin-down and hard-to-put-down book about food in relation to culture, people, and history, plus random food facts. Short entries organized by continent (Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, North America, South America, and even Antarctica—with the heaviest emphasis on the U.S.) highlight notable national and regional dishes and their origins, alongside unique food items, restaurants, or food-related cultural institutions. Each entry has “How To Try It” guidance for finding the dish (in its place of origin or online) or making it at home. Sprinkled throughout are narratives of highlighted figures, histories, and other cultural context. In the mold of the Atlas Obscura site, this book is meant to be browsed, rather than read straight through.
VERDICT Pick a region, pick a page--you can’t go wrong. Armchair travelers and foodies will be left hungry, nostalgic, more knowledgeable about dishes from all over, and, most importantly, ready to try something different, whether it’s found around the corner or across the world.
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