Being woken up by the thud of a heavy padded envelope falling from our mail slot to the floor is not that unusual for me, nor is quickly jumping out of bed to retrieve it. It's certainly not unusual to rip the envelope open and find a cookbook inside, and these days, not even unheard of to find it's a free promotional copy sent by a publisher hoping for some good press. Getting back into bed to leaf through my new book is certainly not out of the ordinary, nor is flagrantly disregarding the fact that I should be getting ready for work rather than lounging around in bed reading cookbooks. What is unusual, however, is to open such a book and find, buried about halfway through and looking for all the world like they actually belong in such a strange place, my own name and more than two thousand of my own words staring back at me.
I'd been waiting for exactly that moment for quite a long time - ever since, thanks to a tip-off from Tea (who is a contributor as well!), I submitted a story just in time to make the deadline for a book about learning to cook around the world, the latest in a line of critically-acclaimed anthologies from Traveler's Tales, and even more so since I'd heard back from Susan Brady that my story was accepted. Nothing really prepared me for the thrill of actually holding the book in my hands, however, and of noticing how different my words look in print than they do on a computer screen - more confident, more shapely, and certainly more permanent. I didn't dwell on it for too long, though, because I quickly realized that this book has a lot more going for it than just my piece. In fact it is a goldmine of brilliant writing, exotic destinations and incredibly tempting recipes. There are tales from just about every corner of the globe; amusing, poignant and heartwarming pieces about teaching chefs in China to make southern fried chicken, conquering culinary demons in cooking school in Sydney, and, of course, learning to make the perfect Spanish tortilla (my own contribution). And as if that weren't enough, the final chapter of the book is chock-full of enough practical information to make any travel-addicted foodie (or food-addicted traveler) drool: international cooking schools and culinary tours, books, magazines, internet resources, etc. The highest praise I can give this book, however, is to tell you that I would buy it even if I hadn't contributed to it, and I suspect that if you're the kind of person who likes food and travel (and especially both in one package), you will no doubt love it too. And with copies available in both the US and the UK, you should be able to get one delivered to you no matter where in the world you are.
In other news, I want to extend a massive THANK YOU everyone who has contributed to my Foodblogger's Guide to the Globe project. When I sent out a tentative request for participation three weeks ago, I certainly didn't expect quite the tidal wave of responses you've provided! A quick count shows the list at 1,220 items suggested by (if my math skills don't fail me) 243 contributors (excluding myself) containing descriptions of edible delights from Cambodia to Cape Town, Bali to Brazil and New Zealand to Nantucket. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed combing through everyone's lists, and this has also been a great excuse to discover dozens (even hundreds!) of new blogs in the process.
As for the food, I have been fascinated to see certain things pop up again and again; things like foie gras and truffles, just-picked fruit and garden-fresh tomatoes and homebaked bread, oysters and macarons and real pizza napoletana. I have also realized that not just taste, but the experience itself also plays a major role in our appreciation of food, as many of you have demonstrated in your advice to have a meal in the dark, eat something with a challenging texture, conduct a taste test, enjoy a fish we've caught or a vegetable we've grown, or even (this is one of my favorites) relive those dreaded school lunches! Then there are those things I've heard about but wasn't aware of just how badly I need to seek them out - Krispy Kreme donuts, Philly cheesesteaks, Texas Hill-Country barbecue, jamón ibérico de bellota, dampfnudeln and real dim sum to name a few - as well as things I'd never heard of but found my mouth watering at their descriptions: sakura ebi, Samoan oka, mutsch and black sapote. Much to my delight I now have handy lists of what not to miss should I find myself in Japan, Cambodia, India or Montreal, and I even know what to ask for if Judy Rogers ever offers to cook me dinner! My thrill-seeking alter-ego will never be content until I partake of fugu, drunken prawns and deep-fried alligator, and at the other end of the spectrum, I have had my appreciation (and appetite!) for home-style comfort food like buttermilk-fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, BLTs and New York-style cheesecake reawakened. It turns out I have a lot of private homes to visit too, evidenced by the number of must-taste dishes made by contributors' mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandpas, uncles and aunts - I hope they're ready to accommodate all the foodie pilgrims like me who will soon be knocking on their doors! And lest we think this is all about food, think again - it turns out no life is complete without Château d'Yquem, Mariage Freres Tea and beer from Oregon.
I'm not even close to having read through each and every contribution yet, but one thing is pretty clear already - we foodbloggers have a lot to live for!
p.s. If you'd still like to contribute to the list please read the original post for guidelines and leave a comment there with your link! I'll be accepting submissions as long as they keep coming...