Endless Feasts :: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet

Endless Feasts – Edited and with an introduction by Ruth Reichl

Modern Library, 2002,  401 pages, no index, $24.95

Ruth Harkness munching on exotic pheasants left in a Tibetan Lamasery by monks fleeing the Chinese invaders in 1944 because that’s all the food she had. Novelist Pat Conroy in Umbria rediscovering the food and sights through the eyes of his new mate.  The death of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York as told by Louis Diat, the chef who was ran the kitchen in 1910 when the hotel opened and was still there when it closed in 1950.

These are just three of the 41 narratives from Gourmet magazine delving into food, travel, taste and personalities.

Do travelers possess innately sophisticated palates that drive them to sample the world’s cuisines?  Or, does travel expose people to different, perhaps fresher ingredients, unusual preparations and intriguing cultural traditions?  The bond between food and travel is logical.  Go traveling and you’ll be foraging, whether at the Ritz or a Louisiana gumbo shack or at Havana, North Dakota’s community run Farmer’s Inn.  Travelers do develop faith in food; a meal is reward for a long day or night’s journey.  Sometimes the story is how grand that travelers’ meal; other times, how bad.  These stories are nearly all about  the great meals and the iconoclasts who cooked them.  A few stories include recipes.

by L. Peat O’Neil

This review appeared in Bloomsbury Review

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