13 Food Memoirs That'll Take You Around The World And Make You Want To Book Plane Tickets Right This Second
Traveling the world is a great way to learn about different cultures, meet interesting people, learn new languages, and best of all, sample new and delicious food. Driving Hungry , which comes out this month, is a glorious adventure through the tasty meals you can try from South America to Europe, and it’s got me feeling really jealous (and hungry). There are plenty of amazing food festivals in the States so you can check out the awesome food that Americans can be proud of, but it’s just not quite the same as exploring the world from restaurant to restaurant. (Seriously, even our beloved fast food chains are more exciting in other countries).
But don’t worry — even if you haven’t got tickets booked to far-off lands this summer, you can still travel vicariously around the world through these 13 food memoirs.
Image: Harvey Enrile/Unsplash
Around the World
Driving Hungry by Layne Mosler
Layne Mosler had the best meal of her life after impulsively asking her cab driver to take her to his favorite restaurant. Soon she was writing a cult food blog, Taxi Gourmet, about the incredible places she discovered on the recommendations of cab drivers. Her blog took her around the world from Buenos Aires to New York to Berlin, from writer to taxi driver, and finally to a book deal for this truly unique food memoir.
Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn
Begin your own gastronomic world tour on home ground, with Kathleen Flinn’s nostalgic memoir of good old Midwestern food. Cooking is about more than just food to Flinn; it symbolizes her family’s history, it’s how she bonded with her father, and it’s how she settled in to her new home.
The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti
When Michael Paterniti tried the greatest slice of cheese he had ever tasted, but was too broke to buy it, he swore that he and the cheese would meet again. The Telling Room is a hilarious take on his journey over the next ten years to discover how the cheese is made, uncovering long-buried secrets along the way.
The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
“I distinctly remember the exact moment when I became Parisian,” writes David Lebovitz in his eye-opening memoir about the culinary etiquette of Paris. The city is, in his eyes, both glorious and maddening, but the gorgeous meals (50 of which have their recipes laid out in the book) make it the city of his dreams.
The Settler’s Cookbook by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and her family migrated from India to the U.K. during the height of British imperial expansion, moving to Uganda on the way. It was here in East Africa that she developed her passion for the hybrid foods she now cooks: curry with ketchup; Shepherd’s Pie with chili; Victoria sponge with saffron and lime.
Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey
Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian childhood is absolutely enchanting to read about. As she climbs mango trees in her grandparent’s orchard, you’ll practically smell the sweetness of the fruits; as her family picnics on mountains, you’ll be overpowered with the scent of mint, ginger, and coriander.
Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop
In a pretty brave move for a Westerner unfamiliar with adventurous Eastern cuisine, Fuchsia Dunlop moved to China in 1994 and vowed to accept all food offered to her. The caterpillars, scorpions, and frogs that seem alien to us become vibrant and exciting in this extraordinary memoir.
A Tiger in the Kitchen by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan left Singapore to make it as a fashion writer in New York, but in her 30s, she began to reminisce about the Singaporean dishes that defined her childhood. Beginning her journey with charred fried rice and ending with delectable pineapple tarts, Tan set about discovering the culinary secrets of her ancestors.
Margaret and Me by Kate Gibbs
Margaret Fulton is the woman that taught Australia to cook (and did it all by hand; she hates all kitchen gadgets!) — and in this remarkable tribute, her granddaughter Kate Gibbs uncovers the amazing stories of this adventurous traveler who first brought foods from far-off cultures back to her hometown.
The Colour of Food by Anne Else
Anne Else had never cooked a meal before she got married at 19; the love she developed for cooking outlasted her marriage. In this exquisite memoir, food guides Else through divorce, motherhood, the discovery of her birth mother, and the tragic loss of beloved family members.
The Latin Road Home by Jose Garces
This book is so full of recipes it’s practically a cookbook, but it is flavored throughout with anecdotes and memories, descriptions of cultural traditions, and vibrant travel photographs. As well as the meals, cooking itself is a festive part of the lively Latin culture embodied in this memoir.
Back in the U.S.A.
Made from Scratch by Sandra Lee
You’ve made it ‘round the world, and sampled some of the most exotic cuisine our planet has to offer. Finish up with Sandra Lee’s unique and honest memoir of semi-homemade meals (70 percent ready-made, 30 percent personal touches) to reassure you that even if you haven’t mastered the spices and subtleties of foreign kitchens, you’re doing just fine.