Lonely Planet's "Food Lover's Guide to the World" ($39.99) is not the sort of book one tosses in a carry-on or backpack along with a toothbrush and passport. It measures roughly 9 by 11 inches and weighs more than 3 pounds.
Yet it's a must-have for anyone who pesters locals for restaurant ideas, pokes around food markets or buys dumpling ladles as souvenirs. A terrific resource before you travel, it also has enough recipes — from Spain's simple egg-potato tortilla to India's complex Hyderabadi biryani and Denmark's sweet flodeboller — to keep cooks happy.
Its food credentials are golden: James Oseland (Saveur mag's editor-in-chief) and Mark Bittman (New York Times columnist and cookbook author) were involved, as were chefs Fergus Henderson, Eric Ripert and Atul Kochhar. Also in the mix: Lonely Planet's "food-passionate travel writers," said Ben Handicott, the book's publisher.
"The book presents food as travel experiences and is for anyone who loves either traveling or great food experiences," Handicott emailed.
Cooking classes. Food or wine tours. Sections dubbed "Learnings" suggest truffle hunts in France and Sweden, trips to a souk before cooking lunch in Morocco and more. Bite-Size Diversions offer food-related insights, from explaining nori-wrapped rice packets (onigiri) found in Japanese convenience stores and Turkish ice cream (dondurma).
Food-related festivals, markets and shout-outs to restaurants are included. So is an array of valuable cultural tips, from how to order noodles to why you shouldn't stick chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice.
Among the best parts are pages devoted to topics such as cheese, breakfast and coffee that take an understanding of the subject beyond a Facebook photo and "it tastes good." The cheese section, for example, explains why France's Muenster is related to England's Stinking Bishop and Italy's taleggio.
What won't you find in the book? "We wish we could have done more on Malaysia and Brazil — these are two places with fantastic eating experiences that we just couldn't devote more space to — we plan to rectify that in the future," Handicott said. Perhaps they also will expand beyond the 14 countries (China, France, Thailand, etc.) and nine regions (Northern Europe, The Middle East, etc.) to give South America and Africa more attention.