The meticulous gastronomic diary of an avid food blogger who spent a year savoring local specialties in 30 countries.
Not every culinary critic is also a gifted travel writer, but Majumdar—who inherited a boundless passion for food from his Welsh mother and Bengali father—invests this account with as many nuanced observations of places and people as evocative descriptions of the spices, cooking methods, aromas and tastes he encountered on his journey. Taking readers from Irish dairies and New York delis to a Sicilian café and an Argentinean steak house, the author is neither bad-boy kitchen warrior seeking the most eccentric dishes on the planet nor wide-eyed newbie airbrushing the flaws from his portraits of far-flung lands. Anchored by candid ruminations on childhood and possible motives for his adventure at the threshold of middle age, the book is as much an investigation of universal themes—heritage, self-identity, culinary traditions—as it is an encyclopedic international feast. Spiked with countless mordant gems (“pancetta that looked like Jackson Pollock had heaved on the plate”; “vegetables so mushy I wanted to look in the kitchen to see if the old cook from my elementary school had been flown in especially for the occasion”), Majumdar's logs foster more than transnational understanding via samplings of home-cured elk, street-vendor rice balls or fish fritters. The cultural cross-pollination in sharing a boiled sheep's head in Iceland or fried taro chips in China is rooted in his back story. While eating with a Finnish family, he reflects, “I had not really spent that much time with my own mother cooking. The kitchen was her domain and I just enjoyed the end results. Now that she's gone, I have added it to the long list of regrets.”
A wry, insightful and pragmatic memoir that will have fearless foodies drooling.