I needed something I could read in small, digestible bites (pun intended) and what better than a collection of essays focusing on food and travel? Of course, most of the life-changing experiences in food written about here will never be something my picky palette will encounter, but each story was emotional and to-the-point, and compact. It felt like I was reading a full story each night with no obligation to recall any previous details. My brain needed that. It has been overloaded lately.
The most touching and consistent aspect of these stories was the idea of food as a symbol of hospitality. The willingness of people to offer up their best food, in some of the poorest parts of the world, to complete strangers and foreigners speaks to the kind heart of humanity (which is sometimes hard to see these days.) Being able to feed guests and make them feel special through food is a rite some cultures will not be denied and that very idea brought me into these crazy stories of eating the strangest food (strange being defined here by someone raised on pizza and grilled chicken.)
Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern make appearances in this collection as well as other illustrious food and travel writers, but their celebrity only serves to grant them access to their experiences or at least motivate them to travel off the beaten path. You don't feel like you're reading something from an "expert" but rather it's just a story of an experience from an Average Joe who happens to have an adventurous spirit.
This was a nice break from novels and made-up worlds, and alternate realities. Compilations area always great when you need a break from a story that takes hundreds of pages to complete and I highly recommend finding one that fits into your own interests if you are looking for a little break from best sellers and whatnot too.