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I would not consider myself a foodie. At all. I like food, but I can’t cook. I can’t describe flavors to you. And I definitely won’t try everything. I do like to bake. I can tell you if something has cilantro in it (I’m team pro-cilantro). I will try a lot of things.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to read about other people enjoying food. So here we are today with some great books for foodies that also love travel. These aren’t just books about food or travel, they’re about both.
It’s either books about traveling and eating or books about food in a specific country and exploring that country’s food. I hope you’re not hungry, but maybe you will be after you read some of these.
Everyone knows the Elizabeth Gilbert classic. After a divorce, another failed romance, and crippling depression, she took a drastic step and decided to take a trip.
Over the course of a year, she goes to Italy to experience pleasure, learning Italian and gaining the 23 happiest pounds of her life, India to experience devotion where she had four months of spiritual exploration, and finally Bali to find the balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.
If you’re looking for a book about French food, look no further. Or at least start here. Felicity is a self-proclaimed croissant connoisseur and an actual food writer. She sets off on her own Tour de France, but it’s more of a Tour de French Food.
She’s on a mission to try the best foods from each region and as many croissants as possible. This is a humorous account of her 3,500 km biking journey and all it’s challenges. Oh, and don’t forget the lycra!
This is a classic Anthony Bourdain book that everyone should read. It’s deliciously funny and delectably shocking with it’s true tales of life in the culinary world. He lays out his more than 25 years of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine in this wonderful expose.
In this book, we get to hear the stories of the people who grow, cook, and eat the hugely varied and little-known foods of Spain.
We are immersed in coastal foods, ancient shepherd cooking, and modern cuisine from cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and San Sebastian where chefs are setting trends across the globe. If you’re a foodie, this is a must-read and If you’re looking for a good foodie book set in Barcelona, look no further!
Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking
Bill Buford turns his attention from Italian cuisine to French. While he may be baffled by the language, he is convinced her can master the art of French cooking. Or at least get to the bottom of why it is so revered.
He shadows esteemed French chef Michel Richard in Washington D.C. for five years before realizing he needs a stage in France so with his wife and twin three-year-old sons in town, they move to Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France.
He starts studying at L’Institut Bocuse, cooking at the Michelin starred La Mere Brazier, and enduring endless hours in the kitchen, obsessed with proving himself and putting himself on the line.
Elizabeth is caught up in two passion love affairs. One with Gwendal, her new beau, the other with French cuisine. After packing her bags for a new life, she is plunged into bustling open-air markets, hipster bistros, and size 2 femme fatales.
She finds the deeper she immerses herself in the world of French Cuisine, the more Paris itself begins to translate. She learns French culture is like a good cheese with a crusty exterior and a soft melting heart. This is a story of falling in love, redefining success, and discovering what it truly means to be at home.
After fifteen years exploring China and it’s food, Fuchsia Dunlop finds herself in an English kitchen deciding if she should eat a caterpillar she accidentally cooked in some vegetables. How does something she ate in China seem so grotesque in England? That’s what we’re here to find out!
Wee’ve got another book from Uncle Tony (Anthony Bourdain) here. This is his quest for the perfect meal where he turns his notion of perfection inside out. This is the chronicle of his journey from California to Cambodia to find his holy grail.
Peter Mayle is an icon when it comes to France. He has tons of book about France and what it’s like living in Provence but this one is all about the food. We find out how contagious the French people’s enthusiasm for food and drink is in this delicious
It’s a marathon of French food with wine instead of Gatorade, searching for the most pungent cheese in France, eavesdropping on the best way to prepare an omelet with Mayle as our charming guide.
David dreamed of living in Paris ever since he first visited in1980. He finally moved to Paris to start a new life after nearly twenty years as a pastry chef and cookbook author. He arrived with everything in three suitcases and with high hopes for what was to come.
He soon discovered it was very different “en France” and learned a lot along the way, like the ironclad rules of social etiquette and the right way around the cheese plate. This is the story of how he fell in love with the glorious and maddening city.
Ice cream has always been a comforting escape for Amy and now as an adult, she’s has gone on a journey to understand ice cream’s evolution and enduring power, including surprising insight into the history behind America’s obsession with the treat.
She travels across the US to see one place that makes frozen custard in a giant machine called the Iron Lung to heated competitions among small ice cream makers, turf wars among ice cream trucks, and even extreme flavors like foie gras and oysters as she uncovers what’s really behind America’s frozen treats.
Longthroat is a collection of essays about Nigerian food presented by the country’s top epicurean writer. It also comes with a mouth-watering appraisal of politics and erotics of Nigerian cuisine making it a series of love letters to the Nigerian palate.
The meticulousness, peculiarities, and tactility of Nigerian food is examined and combined with the wonderful tradition of storytelling.
This is actually a fiction foodie travel book, spicing things up here. Hassan was born above his grandfather’s modest restaurant in Mumbai and is where he first experienced life through whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother.
Soon tragedy pushes them out of India and they console themselves by eating their way around the world eventually ending up in a small village in the French Alps. The boisterous family takes the village by storm when they open an inexpensive Indian restaurant and bring the spice of India to the sleepy village.
Their restaurant is right across from Madame Mallory’s esteemed French relais and only after she wages culinary war with the family does she finally agree to mentor Hassan, leading him to Paris to open his own restaurant.
While not exactly a foodie travel book, I’m still including it since it’s close enough for me. Julie Powell gives herself a challenge to make all 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days. Through ups and downs of poaching eggs and extracting bone marrow, she pushes on and I won’t ruin it, but it’s full of some bizarre cooking adventures.
If you’re looking for a cookbook, keep looking. This is more of a travelogue and patient investigation into Italy’s food culture and the people pushing it in new directions: three globetrotting brothers who became the mozzarella kings of Puglia, the pizza police of Naples, and the Barolo Boys who turned the hilly Piedmont into one of the world’s greatest wine regions.
This book about Japanese food will make you feel like you’re there eating your own way though the noodle shops, tempura temples, and teahouses with all the insider advice and 195 color photos.
Matt navigates the intersection between food, history, and culture of Japan making it one of the more comprehensive books about Japanese culinary culture from a western perspective.
Matt is back at it taking us to Spain this time, his adoptive home, as we get to know the sprawling culinary and geographical landscape, remarkable people, and complex history.
You’ll feel like you’re in Barcelona and Madrid enjoying tapas bars and late nights. We even get to meet three sisters who risk their necks for one of Spain’s most treasured ingredients: gooseneck barnacle.
One day, Nellie Bennett falls in love with Flamenco in a dance studio in Sydney, but that’s not enough and she’s bored of her retail job so she packs her bags for Seville, Spain to get closer to the real thing. Soon she realizes Flamenco is a way of life, not just a dance and she finds herself in love three times before discovering it’s the country that held her heart all along.
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears in Paris at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School
Kathleen Flinn returned from a vacation in London to find out her corporate job had been eliminated. Instead of following her mother’s advice to get another job immediately, she packed up and moved to Paris to get a degree from Le Cordon Bleu.
This is the account of her transformation as she moves through the course and falls deeply in love along the way. This is a little less travel and a little more memoir, but either way it does include more than two dozen recipes with a unique looking into Le Cordon Bleu.
This isn’t a food travel book, but more travel and history book granting rare access into the legendary breweries of Trappist monks. Three American beer writers are traveling across the globe to see the monks in action.
You’ll learn about the origins of the Trappist religious order and their long relationship with the art of brewing before visiting the 11 abbey breweries themselves. The book includes artwork of each abbey, which gets their own chapter.
This is a foodies experience with the exploration of food in India told with quirky facts and stories. The author describes regional cuisines and their main dishes that he connects with his travels, experiences, and memories over many decades. Over 400 dishes are covered including ingredients, methods of cooking, and even facts and anecdotes about each.
Food and the City: New York’s Professional Chefs, Restaurateurs, Line Cooks, Street Vendors, and Purveyors Talk About What They Do and Why They Do It
Ina Yalof takes us on a journey through New York’s pulsating food scene and everyone that calls it home. We find out why Dominique Ansel made the first Cronut, why Lenny Berk was the only one allowed to slice Woody Allen’s mother’s lox at Zabar’s, and how Ghaya Oliveira came to New York as a young Tunisian stockbroker went from dishwasher to executive pastry chef at Daniel.
While this may not be exactly a food travel book either, it takes us into the culinary world in one of the best cities in the world. I’m pretty excited to read this one!
In Buttermilk Graffiti, Edward Lee argues that America is the most interesting place to eat on Earth thanks to the melting pot culture. Thanks to immigrants who brought their own culinary background to the country and the way it evolved over the decade to become what it is today.
He shares his experience as a Korean immigrant, a New Yorker, and now a Southerner. Each chapter is a story of growth related to the people he meets and the food they eat.
Jen Lin-Liu was a freelance journalist and food writer living in Beijing and while she already had a ringside seat for China’s exploding food scene, she jumped in the ring herself when she decided to enroll in a local cooking school.
It was unheated without a measuring cup in sight and now she is progressing from cooking student to noodle stall and dumpling house apprentice to intern at a chic Shanghai restaurant. She finds poor young men and women streaming in from the provinces looking for a “rice bowl” (living wage) with a burgeoning middle class hungry for luxury after decades of turmoil.
Inspired by Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, Michael Booth sets off to take the pulse of contemporary culinary Japan. He learns recipes and tips that few westerners have been privy to before.
He is accompanied by his wife and two picky eaters under six and they travel the country visiting beer-obsessed Hokkaido and seaweed-loving Okinawa. Along they way they dine with sumos, meet indigenous Ainu, visit a dog cafe, and less positively, trash a Zen garden, witness a mass fugu slaughter, and are traumatized by an encounter with giant crabs.
Eating My Way Through Italy: Heading Off the Main Roads to Discover the Hidden Treasures of the Italian Table
Elizabeth Minchilli has spent a lifetime living and eating in Rome making her an expert on the city’s cuisine and while she’s proud of everything she can share about Rome, she wants to show her readers that the rest of Italy is a culinary wonder waiting to be explored.
Each region of Italy has it’s own specialties and this shows us all the different aspects of Italian food culture from pizza in Naples to deep fried calamari in Venice, anchovies in Amalfi to hunting for truffles in Umbria. Each chapter is full of anecdotes, personal stories, practical advice, recipes, and more.
Ann is overjoyed when her husband is assigned a three-year assignment in Paris as a diplomat. She begins planning her gastronomic adventures right away after being a lifelong foodie and Francophile.
Then he is called to Iraq for a year-long post alone and her visions of adventures in the city are turned upside down. Now she has to find a new life for herself in the city where she fights her loneliness by searching for the perfect pain au chocolat and learning how andoulliette sausage is really made.
Between all of her adventures in Paris and southern France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths, too.
Have you read any of these foodie travel books? Which ones? Any others I should read?