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Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe Hardcover – October 20, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426205074
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426205071
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 9.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Top Ten New Year's Celebratory Feasts Around the World


Forget-the-Year Parties, Japan

Bonenkai, or forget-the-year, parties are occasions for workmates or groups of friends to celebrate the previous year’s successes and drown its failures. They usually take place in izakaya, taverns serving smallish Japanese dishes alongside drinks, or restaurants. Rigid protocol applies, at least until everyone is drunk; empty glasses are taboo.

Planning: Bonenkai parties take place throughout December; many people attend several. www.jnto.go.jp


New Year, or Spring Festival, China

On the eve of this 4,000-year-old lunar festival, families gather for a lavish reunion dinner. Common components are a chicken, symbolizing wholeness; black moss, indicating wealth; sticky cake, boding a sweet new year; and “longevity” noodles, eaten uncut. Dinner usually ends with a whole steamed fish, which is left unfinished to augur a new year of plenty.

Planning: Chinese New Year falls on varying dates in January and February. Wear red: it’s a lucky color. www.chinaodysseytours.com


Feast of the First Morning, Vietnam

An ancestor-worship festival, Tet Nguyen Dan (Feast of the First Morning) is also an occasion to entertain friends and family—and start the year auspiciously. Since even cooks relax for Tet, dishes are prepared ahead and include kho (a tangy stew flavored with caramel and fish sauce), banh chung (sticky pork and mung-bean rice cakes), and cu kieu (pickled spring onions).

Planning: Tet usually corresponds with Chinese New Year. Shops and markets close for up to three weeks. www.footprintsvietnam.com


White Month, Mongolia

Mongolia’s three-day lunar New Year festival, Tsagaan Sar (White Month), is celebrated at the junction of winter and spring. Bituuleg (New Year’s Eve dinner) stars a cooked sheep’s rump, accompanied by steamed meat dumplings, lamb patties, and flat biscuits, washed down with fermented mare’s milk and milk vodka.

Planning: The date varies from year to year. Mongolians prepare enough food for all-comers. Guests should bring presents. Packaged tours are available. www.mongoliatourism.gov.mn


New Year’s Eve, Russia

Feasting lavishly is at the core of Russia’s biggest festival as many Russians believe the new year will continue as it started. The evening proceeds with a succession of toasts made with vodka or Sovetskoye Shampanskoye (Soviet champagne). Typical dishes include caviar, smoked salmon, goose, and suckling pig. Many Russians also celebrate the Julian Old New Year on January 13-14.

Planning: Many restaurants arrange package tours. www.russia-travel.com


New Day, Iran

The 3,000-year-old Noruz (New Day) is a Zoroastrian, pre- Islamic festival that remains Iranians’ top holiday. Core to the rituals is the haft sin (seven s’s) spread—usually chosen from sabze (green shoots), samanu (wheat pudding), sib (apples), sohan (honey-and-nut brittle), senjed (jujube), sangak (flatbread), siyahdane (sesame seeds), sir (garlic), somaq (sumac), and serke (vinegar). But it is all display. On the eve itself, Iranians usually eat sabzi polo mahi, steamed rice with green herbs and fish.

Planning: Noruz corresponds with the vernal equinox (usually March 21).www.itto.org


New Year’s Eve, Piedmont, Italy

A large dinner (cenone) is common throughout northern Italy for New Year’s Eve, but few places take it to the same extremes as Piedmont, birthplace of the Slow Food movement. Expect a dozen antipasti, boiled homemade sausages with lentils, at least three other main courses, and several desserts, including panettone and hazelnut cake.

Planning: For an authentic rural experience, enjoy home-cooked food in a family atmosphere at a farmhouse. www.piedmont.worldweb.com


New Year’s Eve, Spain

Spaniards devour a grape with each midnight chime. Most people celebrate at home, but large public festivities in Barcelona’s Plaza Catalunya see people assemble with grapes and cava (sparkling white wine) before a night’s clubbing.

Planning: Peeled, unseeded grapes are easier to swallow rapidly. www.barcelonaturisme.com


New Year’s Eve, the Netherlands

Although restrained in their consumption of pastries for most of the year, Netherlanders abandon all prudence on New Year’s Eve, when dinner ends with deep-fried appelflappen (apple turnovers), appelbeignets (battered apple rings), and oliebollen (doughnuts). They usually toast the new year with champagne.

Planning: Some restaurants and hotels organize special dinners as part of a package, often including accomodation. www.holland.com


Hogmanay, Scotland

On New Year’s Eve, called Hogmanay in Scotland, most rituals, such as first-footing (visiting) friends and neighbors after midnight, are home-based. Key among the food traditions is a Scottish steak pie, often ordered in advance from butchers, alongside black bun and clootie dumpling—both rich fruitcakes—and shortbread.

Planning: In Edinburgh, the Hogmanay Food Fair or upscale butchers, such as John Saunderson, are good places to stock up on goodies. www.edinburgh.org, www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk

More About the Author

Katie Parla has written, edited and contributed to more than 20 food and travel books. She has written titles for National Geographic, Time Out, Rough Guides, Dorling Kindersley, Fodor's, and Insight Guides. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times, and is the author of the blog Parla Food and the apps "Katie Parla's Rome" and "Katie Parla's Istanbul".

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Customer Reviews

Makes me want to buy my plane ticket tomorrow.
Constant Traveler
This is a very heavy book, loaded with gorgeous photographs and treasured food journeys and the people behind the great food.
Expressed Reviews
I highly recommend as a treat for oneself, or as a gift for the foodie in your life.
N. Grebe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By W. Dupont on November 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is sooo cool! I have been to many of the places they write about, and find the book to be amazingly well researched. I plan to use it as a travel planner supplement for future trips because you can't get this kind of information out of a regular travel book. Plus, it a great daydreaming tool. One can flip the pages and imagine wonderful places to visit and eat. I especially appreciate the way they cover all types of dining experiences -- it's not just about expensive, 5-star restaurants. Each page contains loads of information that connects the food to the context of the place. These pieces were clearly written by insiders, people who know the area and can guide you to authentic, memorable experiences.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Strasbaugh on November 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Who doesn't want to eat their way around the world? I love this book, it takes care of my holiday shopping list and is hugely entertaining. Food Journeys captures the essence of why I/most people travel -- they want to eat great food in gorgeous locales with interesting people. The photos are beautiful and the info is rich and very helpful. Hadn't thought of food festivals as a good travel destination. Also looking forward to hunting down the best baguette. Lots of fun ideas here. Am glad someone finally made a book like this.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I have the privilege to travel to exotic places abroad, I've generally made it a point to find an opportunity to take a cooking lesson in the local cuisine. I figured out a while back that the most intimate way to get to know a culture is through the food they grow, create, cook and eat. Now comes a book from the editors of one of my favorite magazines, National Geographic Traveler, that focuses on the culinary adventures to be had around the globe. As expected, it's a handsome coffee-table book that takes full advantage of the vast catalog of images and articles long featured in the magazine. It's divided into nine beguiling chapters:

-- "Specialties & Ingredients" focuses on foods which are unique to specific locales, ranging from Vermont maple syrup to the fresh sushi found at dawn in Tokyo's Tsukiji Market to the vanilla bean that originated on the island of Réunion.
-- "Outstanding Markets" spotlights the world's great bazaars such as Thailand's floating markets, Venice's Rialto Fish Market, and in my own backyard, San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace.
-- "Seasonal Delights" runs the gamut from French truffles to Finnish crayfish to Maryland's soft-shell crabs.
-- "In the Kitchen" brings to the fore the intimate secrets of the world's cuisines through classic technique and unique ingredients. Recipes are plentiful in this section's sidebars.
-- "Favorite Street Foods" is the section with which I have the most affinity since it highlights exactly the type of food that I would eat as a traveler, the local eats found on mobile food carts, at street kiosks, and in expansive night markets.
Read more ›
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ava Seave on November 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book represents my secret -- I don't eat when I am out travelinig, but I travel to eat.... And imagining what I am going to eat when I go to places is really almost as good as being there (not really, but it does help to build the anticipation.) I found myself lingering over the Lists of 10 things in many of the categories. It's the kind of compare and contrast thing that really gets you thinking. The cheese tours of France and the Literary Watering holes of the world particularly, particularly are begging to be implemented.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Chirich on March 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe © National Geographic Society 2009
By Nan C.
That travel bug you were sure airport hassle, terrorists, or a current stay on Poverty Row had killed, comes right back to haunt you as soon as you open this book. Supersized 12"L x 9.5"W and 1" Deep (not counting sturdy hard cover), this five-pounder is no takalong guide. But what a beautiful way to browse and dream! Be sure to take notes - in case.
National Geographic never shys away from sending contributors to wild parts of the world. Foodie destinations in most corners of the globe are covered, as though grim State Department Travel Warnings do not exist. Wonderful index of 313 non-gushy pages, beautiful photos (of course), suggestions for international hotel chains, bed & breakfasts, campgrounds to stay near the goal - from gourmet cooking schools to street food vendor-specialists in world capitals and villages, including the USA, plus the occasional sidelined recipe. Those Preserved Lemons somehow inspired me to get to Morocco ASAP! ###
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Linda M. Cogozzo on November 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I bought two copies of Food Journeys of a Lifetime: one for myself, the other for a foodie friend. The photography is beautiful; the descriptions are comprehensive (when to go, planning, recommended websites, and more); and the layout makes it easy to take it all in. (Thank you, National Geographic editors, for including an index!) Food plays a big part in my travel, and I will use this book to dream, to plan, to reminisce. Five stars!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mary F. Hegarty-Clark on November 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I suggest that you keep a copy of this evocative book by your desk. On those endless afternoons when you've had just about enough of spreadsheets and office coffee, pick it up and turn through the pages at random. Yes, there is a world outside your four walls and the luscious photos and descriptions in this book will conjure up the tastes, scents, and sights of places you've never even heard of...you'll be roused from your boring day funk, your appetite whet for food adventures. Just when you feel that you may never experience life outside a cubicle again, this book will remind you that's it's a mysterious and diverse world out there--seek it out!
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