book cover

Endless Feasts Cover.

Endless Feasts — Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet

  • 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 demise of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York as told by Louis DiaGou, 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  the late, great Gourmet magazine.  My grandmother wrote a few articles for Gourmet in the 1940s-early 50s.

I wonder…. do travelers possess innately complex palates that drive them to sample the world’s cuisines?  Or, does travel expose people to exotic — perhaps fresher — ingredients, unusual preparations and intriguing cultural traditions?

The interplay between food and travel is logical.  Go traveling and you’ll be foraging, whether at the street market in Ho Chi Min City, the Ritz in Paris,  a Bayou 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  meal; other times, how bad, and the aftermath.  These stories are nearly all about  the great meals and the iconoclasts who cooked them.  A few stories include recipes.

Details on the book: Edited and with an introduction by Ruth Reichl. Modern Library, 2002. 401 pages, no index, $24.95

A similar version of this article appeared in the  Bloomsbury Review.

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