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Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide

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Wonder is around every corner, and on every plate. The curious minds behind Atlas Obscura now turn to the hidden curiosities of food, which becomes a gateway to fascinating stories about human history, science, art, and tradition—like the first book, all organized by country, lavishly illustrated, and full of surprises.


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Wonder is around every corner, and on every plate. The curious minds behind Atlas Obscura now turn to the hidden curiosities of food, which becomes a gateway to fascinating stories about human history, science, art, and tradition—like the first book, all organized by country, lavishly illustrated, and full of surprises.

30 review for Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

    This is a strange book that takes you on a trip around the world, exposing you to the weirdest foods and all their odd history. Many are disgusting, some are illegal, and I'm not sure I'd want to eat most of them. It's often fascinating, but gets a bit long. This isn't a book you necessarily want to sit and read cover to cover. It's quite a trip, though, reading the strangest food information for anyplace in the world you want to visit. It's generously illustrated with color photos and drawings, This is a strange book that takes you on a trip around the world, exposing you to the weirdest foods and all their odd history. Many are disgusting, some are illegal, and I'm not sure I'd want to eat most of them. It's often fascinating, but gets a bit long. This isn't a book you necessarily want to sit and read cover to cover. It's quite a trip, though, reading the strangest food information for anyplace in the world you want to visit. It's generously illustrated with color photos and drawings, and each food includes a "how to try it" blurb for those who want to sample that particular oddity. I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for the purpose of review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Krystelle Fitzpatrick

    This book was a magnificently fascinating foray into the world of obscure eats, many of which take a lot of adjusting to in terms of wrapping your head around the mechanics of them! I think the best thing about a book like this is just how much you can learn- there were so many things in this book that I had no idea about, and this is coming from someone who had read on the topic of strange and wonderful foods before. The amount of research and knowledge that a book like this necessitates is min This book was a magnificently fascinating foray into the world of obscure eats, many of which take a lot of adjusting to in terms of wrapping your head around the mechanics of them! I think the best thing about a book like this is just how much you can learn- there were so many things in this book that I had no idea about, and this is coming from someone who had read on the topic of strange and wonderful foods before. The amount of research and knowledge that a book like this necessitates is mind-boggling, and I am so appreciative that the writers have made the choice to share this with us. It is no juvenile book, and for people who don't usually approach factual books as novels to be read in one hit, it makes itself very available for perusal at your leisure. However, I simply could not put it down- I loved every minute of it and found myself just wanting to know more and more about the topics. The sections are also easily navigable and make it simple to find specifics if you're looking- and illustrations are provided for many of the foods, which makes it so much easier to understand precisely how they work. This book also has the incredible capacity to make you feel as though you are genuinely a part of what you're reading, sparking almost a nostalgia about the things you read about. It was simply incredible. For those of us among us who have a burning curiosity, for the foodies, and for those with just a fascination about the world, this book is perfect. I've not yet read the first book, but after this will be hunting it down- if not just to learn more about this bizarre and wonderful world we live in!

  3. 4 out of 5

    June

    Gastro Obscura explores the world through what it eats, and sometimes, what it shouldn't eat. The book is divided up by location, with lots of illustrations, captions, and sidebars, and most stories take no more than a page or two to tell, so it can be read piecemeal (sorry) or cover to cover. Regular readers of Atlas Obscura, Mental Floss, and other such sites will know some of these stories, but there is still plenty to learn and digest (sorry again). My one wish would be for more citations an Gastro Obscura explores the world through what it eats, and sometimes, what it shouldn't eat. The book is divided up by location, with lots of illustrations, captions, and sidebars, and most stories take no more than a page or two to tell, so it can be read piecemeal (sorry) or cover to cover. Regular readers of Atlas Obscura, Mental Floss, and other such sites will know some of these stories, but there is still plenty to learn and digest (sorry again). My one wish would be for more citations and/or an index to learn more about certain sections. Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to review a digital ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    This is a trip around the world with photos and descriptions of unique foods, categorized by location. It is an enjoyable and educational read. It is not a cookbook. If you are interested in the foods and cultures of the world, you will enjoy this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    Gastro Obscura is just a delightful book for all that is interested in food or food history information, as there is something for everyone here. I enjoyed the format by region and especially liked the sections for the US and was geeked by the Antarctica section which showcased Base Station Cuisine by country. Each page, country, or region provided me with information that intrigued and informed. I liked that the book goes beyond what is often the “signature” food/dish of a place, but gave me a b Gastro Obscura is just a delightful book for all that is interested in food or food history information, as there is something for everyone here. I enjoyed the format by region and especially liked the sections for the US and was geeked by the Antarctica section which showcased Base Station Cuisine by country. Each page, country, or region provided me with information that intrigued and informed. I liked that the book goes beyond what is often the “signature” food/dish of a place, but gave me a behind scene lesson into lesser known food patterns/habit. I came away better informed of different cultures and traditions and felt more of a participant of the world. I recommend this book for fans of Atlas Obscura, foodies, trivia fans and curious readers. And just think of all of the interesting conversations this book will generate if you leave it out on the coffee table for others to browse. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karen Foster

    As someone who plans what and where she’s going to eat, as a priority when planning any trip, this seemed like just my cup of tea. It is a great gift for the adventurous foodie, with a penchant for the weird and wonderful, and an interest in bizarre historical tidbits. It’s the perfect book to have sitting on the coffee table, to browse and dip into, and read the quirkiest and most fascinating bits aloud to anyone in earshot! My only disappointment was that the photography and design felt a bit As someone who plans what and where she’s going to eat, as a priority when planning any trip, this seemed like just my cup of tea. It is a great gift for the adventurous foodie, with a penchant for the weird and wonderful, and an interest in bizarre historical tidbits. It’s the perfect book to have sitting on the coffee table, to browse and dip into, and read the quirkiest and most fascinating bits aloud to anyone in earshot! My only disappointment was that the photography and design felt a bit dated, but I guess it’s expected for a book gathered from endless sources. Thanks NETGALLEY.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Like most Atlas Obscura books there is a lot of information packed into this book. But my family loves it. I like how it is split up regionally and there is great historical and current information. The pictures are beautiful. And the article/sections are perfect to read 1 or 2 with the family a day while letting everyone take turns with their favorite country. Currently I have a digital version. I am looking forward to being able to buy a physical copy. *I received a copy of this book from NetGal Like most Atlas Obscura books there is a lot of information packed into this book. But my family loves it. I like how it is split up regionally and there is great historical and current information. The pictures are beautiful. And the article/sections are perfect to read 1 or 2 with the family a day while letting everyone take turns with their favorite country. Currently I have a digital version. I am looking forward to being able to buy a physical copy. *I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Gastro Obscura is an amazingly and entertainingly detailed book about food!! From historical background to recent discoveries, long-held myths to unusual facts, this book is a wonder! I imagine that many readers will do as I did, and turn first to the country/countries of their background. (Who knew that Norway has the highest annual per capita pizza consumption of any nation?) With straight-forward writing and vivid pictures, this book can be enjoyed by many.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book was so fun! Part cookbook and part short stories, a reader could open this book onto any page and be both entertained and educated. For example, a section on Australia includes a collection of information about a melon festival, a coconut cult, the world's oldest emu farm, and wild rice conversation art. I've been keeping this book in the kitchen to read a little bit when I have a minute or two--you know I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book was so fun! Part cookbook and part short stories, a reader could open this book onto any page and be both entertained and educated. For example, a section on Australia includes a collection of information about a melon festival, a coconut cult, the world's oldest emu farm, and wild rice conversation art. I've been keeping this book in the kitchen to read a little bit when I have a minute or two--you know, when you're waiting for the water to boil or during the last few minutes when dinner is coming together. This would also be a great idea to read with and/or discuss with your family at dinner. What better way to get everyone talking over sandwiches than to discuss that the first sandwich was NOT invented by the Earl of Sandwich, but by the Han Chinese 2,000 years earlier or The Cheese Sandwich Scandal of the Masters Tournament? Got a kid who likes "gross" or "weird" stuff? Talk about how Russians once preserved their milk with frogs, the Inuit tradition of fermenting birds in seal skin, or the Worm Courtship Festival of Indonesia. I definitely suggest adding this book to your kitchen or coffee table. This would be a great book to give as a gift this holiday season. Come chat with me about books here, too: Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

  10. 5 out of 5

    Teddy

    4.5 stars

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Howlin

    This book was utterly fascinating! It's full of easy to read foodie facts, stunning photos and even the odd recipe. Some of the foods showcased look quite tasty but others are repulsive but still pretty interesting. A wonderful addition to a foodie or world traveller's coffee table. This book was utterly fascinating! It's full of easy to read foodie facts, stunning photos and even the odd recipe. Some of the foods showcased look quite tasty but others are repulsive but still pretty interesting. A wonderful addition to a foodie or world traveller's coffee table.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    Well, thanks to Gastro Obscura, my Christmas shopping is done. This book is informative, entertaining, and at times really disgusting. It is a must-read for anyone who eats. It is one of those books that has such fascinating info, the reader must share tidbits with anyone nearby, which can be annoying. I advise people to buy two copies and read them in sync with a partner, This is one of those books that is better shared while reading. An absolute blast!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    *This book was received as an advanced reader's copy from NetGalley. This might just be one of my favorite 'food' books I've read in awhile. I'm always looking for innovative or 'new to me' foods or cuisines, and this book touched on so many that my poor Amazon wish-list is now chock full of goodies I'd like to try. But moreso than being just a grocery list helper, this book is a great way to view different customs, foods, and other edible innovations around the world, and helps introduce the rea *This book was received as an advanced reader's copy from NetGalley. This might just be one of my favorite 'food' books I've read in awhile. I'm always looking for innovative or 'new to me' foods or cuisines, and this book touched on so many that my poor Amazon wish-list is now chock full of goodies I'd like to try. But moreso than being just a grocery list helper, this book is a great way to view different customs, foods, and other edible innovations around the world, and helps introduce the reader to things they might never have known existed otherwise. Broken into world regions like Europe, Canada, Africa, etc. (and then further broken into sub-regions within that), each section highlights food festivals, events, items, specialized produce, and much more. To tag along with each item, there is usually a picture or two and also a note on where to obtain the item if possible. Along the way, certain food history or further depth into customs surrounding a particular item or foodstuff around the world are inter-weaved. Most are done in summaries, with few items being more than a page long. The writing is engaging, fun, and interesting; I can truthfully say there was no skimming and I read every word because I was so intrigued by it. And where some reference books can be dry and boring, this one did not have that tone at all. It was a delight to read through a section at a time, and while I can't say this is a 'sit down and read all at once' type of book, I did return to it night after night to continue the food journey. Among some of my favorite parts were the 'rolling in the grits' (not an Adele song as you might expect), Spicebush (I have two planted in my yard!), Spit-roasted cake, and well, there's too many and my bucket list has really increased as a result. Really a wonderful book and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who likes travel, food, or learning about other cultures. I definitely plan on buying a physical copy of this one as a permanent addition to the home library. Review by M. Reynard 2020

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Pickens

    Based on the Atlas Obscura style, this book features curiosities and tales of foods eaten around the world. This subject has taken on new significance with the mutation of the corona virus caused by the consumption of snakes and bats in China. There are common food items throughout the world. Examples are dumplings like Jewish matzah balls are eaten in about every geographic area, and using insects and worms for protein sources.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Seema Rao

    Enjoyable. Readable and well designed. I found myself enjoying tearing through the book, finding trivia and stories I’d never heard. Great for a food lover. Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    =^.^= Janet

    When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. Wonder is around every corner and on every plate. The curious minds When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. Wonder is around every corner and on every plate. The curious minds behind Atlas Obscura now turn to the hidden curiosities of food, which becomes a gateway to fascinating stories about human history, science, art, and tradition—like the first book, all organized by country, lavishly illustrated, and full of surprises. Atlas Obscura is one of my favourite websites ever so this book was a no-brainer to read. I learned so many things and was, frankly, delighted to see that they had Canada's ubiquitous "Milk in bags" explained for the world to see. (There are photos of that on my Facebook review!) I was also delighted to read about the butterfly pea flower: I adore David's Tea and they have a crazy butterfly pea flower tea that mesmerizes my nephew when we add acid to it. (There are more photos of that on Facebook, of course!) There is so much information in this book, it is gobsmacking - I only wish that the photos did not have Shutterstock or Alamy superimposed on the photos or boxes with the .jpg file number: I assume that they are there on the review copy only. I just loved this book and now know of many, many foods that I will never eat or even attempt to with my "sophisticated Canadian palate"! As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it ☕🎂 🥓🧀🥧

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Davis

    Gastro Obscura, by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras; Workman Publishing: New York; $42.50 hardback If you wonder what can move your soul and all five senses at once, look no further than this incredible golden key to stunning, enchanting, and even bizarre foods of the world. Cecily Wong, together with Dylan Thuras create essays and generate ideas for the magnificent world-hopping Atlas Obscura book and online publications. Now they provide an artistry and sensitivity seldom found with their incredib Gastro Obscura, by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras; Workman Publishing: New York; $42.50 hardback If you wonder what can move your soul and all five senses at once, look no further than this incredible golden key to stunning, enchanting, and even bizarre foods of the world. Cecily Wong, together with Dylan Thuras create essays and generate ideas for the magnificent world-hopping Atlas Obscura book and online publications. Now they provide an artistry and sensitivity seldom found with their incredibly appealing Gastro Obscura. Here they've brought about a veil-puller which reveals how the magic of travel and its delectable discoveries can be found quite literally anywhere. That is to say, anywhere. Foods as rare as kumiss are discussed. It's a Central Asian agitated, sugar rich milk of mare, slightly alcoholic, once drunk by Genghis Khan. You'll find Namibian tsamma melon. Dr. David Livingston observed this fruit alone kept natives alive for months, its water and protein rich seeds defeating a death dealing desert. Gastro Obscura is, after all, a Food Adventurer's Guide. Here you'll discover not only rarities from distant lands but American culinary wonders which can be found around the corner. You'll find for instance that the faraway Fiji Islands offer Saccharum edule, a cane shoot called duruka, nicknamed Fiji asparagus. But then you'll be equally charmed to visit the giant omelette celebration in Louisiana. Not a cook book, rather this guide is divided into geographical regions, each with a host of inviting, or better said,alluring foods to offer. You'll find you have gotten the password to an Aladdin's Cave of delights...and scary feasts as well. Snakes, anyone? You'll find for each food presented, there is an accompanying 'How to try it'. You can taste the New Year's Eve pickle drop in Mount Olive, North Carolina. Visiting Cuba? Did you know a whole national demand kept ice cream available when their economy tanked in the 1990's. Nowadays on Verdadero you can get five scoops for about a quarter. Whole pages are devoted to food aficionados, like Sam Panopoulos, who came from Greece to introduce Hawaiian Pizza to Canada. You'll find food linked cultural phenomena explained. Chitlins, the innards of hogs, were a code during Jim Crow days. If an establishment advertised those, African Americans would be served there. Oh you can find herb seasoned camel spleen in Morocco. Akutaq is beaten moose or caribou fat, oil, and snow which Native Alaskan women mix to a whipped frosting. You can have this ice cream with, or without, fish. Learn about a Fool's Gold sandwich,Elvis's secret delight. Or maybe your tastes run to giant meat roasting pits, as found at Carnivore Restaurant in Kenya. Lifelike candy Koi fish are descendants of ancient practices where they were once created as offerings to the spirits. Now guests can even learn to make them in Tokyo. We have such a wondrous world, and this book will give you but a 'taste'. If you can keep from trying to read the entire tour du monde in one sitting, you are truly disciplined. Instead, cherish this avenue of wonder. Live this food adventure.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David

    An interesting read, but hardly features anything you wouldn't find for free on the Gastro Obscura website. That being said, it is, for the most part, a beautiful book that might serve as a reminder for many of us about the simple pleasures of physical media vs. its digital counterparts. My main issue here is that I don't think the title of authors for Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras is genuinely justified. I'm sure a whole lot of effort went into editing and compiling the book, so perhaps "edited/c An interesting read, but hardly features anything you wouldn't find for free on the Gastro Obscura website. That being said, it is, for the most part, a beautiful book that might serve as a reminder for many of us about the simple pleasures of physical media vs. its digital counterparts. My main issue here is that I don't think the title of authors for Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras is genuinely justified. I'm sure a whole lot of effort went into editing and compiling the book, so perhaps "edited/compiled by" would make the most sense. To me, the true authors are the people who wrote the original articles that make the bulk of the wonder within. From paid writers to volunteer contributors, it's them that made most of the research and heavy lifting of actually finding these foods and stories and getting them out there. They are properly credited, yes, but only at the end of the book. I think that stating the book was "written by Gastro Obscura's contributors, compiled by Wong and Thuras" would be a much fairer credit. I did mention the book was beautiful for the most part, which brings me to some of its publishing issues. In cases where the layout uses a picture as the background with text in front, more often than not the contrast is not enough and the text is very difficult to make out. Typos and mistakes are copied verbatim from the website as well (a Scottish politician gets called "last English governor", there are claims that Mayans used bananas pre-Columbian Exchange, etc.) which makes me think that a second edition is probably on the way. Such was the case with the original Atlas Obscura book, which has the same approach to the way articles published collectively online are now credited to a few "authors".

  19. 4 out of 5

    Diane Hernandez

    Gastro Obscura is a worldwide trip down memory lane and into some strange corners of the globe. Sort of a more fleshed out Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with an emphasis on the weird or historical. Want to visit the oldest tavern in America? See the White Horse Tavern in Rhode Island. Bored with the Midwest’s butter art? Visit the Salo Art Museum in Ukraine for bacon fat art. There is even a photo of a bust of a bust. However, this book can teach you stuff without even leaving your chair. Who knew Gastro Obscura is a worldwide trip down memory lane and into some strange corners of the globe. Sort of a more fleshed out Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with an emphasis on the weird or historical. Want to visit the oldest tavern in America? See the White Horse Tavern in Rhode Island. Bored with the Midwest’s butter art? Visit the Salo Art Museum in Ukraine for bacon fat art. There is even a photo of a bust of a bust. However, this book can teach you stuff without even leaving your chair. Who knew that giant, and thankfully extinct, sloths spread avocado trees throughout Mexico by pooping out their gigantic seeds basically everywhere. As faraway as Russia and colonial America made shelf-stable alcohol from sour milk. Besides making “milk vodka” those same Russians threw a live frog in their milk to keep it fresh. In 2012, a Russian scientist with a childhood of frog milk proved that a certain type of frog would indeed preserve milk. Another fun fact is that ketchup was created in Southeast Asia. Macadamia nuts all descended from a single tree in Queensland Australia. I could go on and on. It’s all fascinating. Sorted by continent and then by country/region, there is a brief description of the food or place, a bit of its history, and a photograph or drawing. I had great fun reading about the strange foods and rituals from around the world. Gastro Obscura would be a great gift for the newly retired, those looking for exotic places to travel, or anyone who enjoys reading about different cultures. 5 stars and one of my favorites! Thanks to Workman Publishing Company and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Angela Natividad

    I thought this would be a cookbook of obscurities. Sometimes it is (you will find, for example, a recipe for the South African milk tart), but it is also more. Gastro Obscura is a vast collection of strange food products, like New Zealand's Gunpowder Rum, or a Canadian soap-flavoured gum called Thrills. But it also contains a diversity of food customs and tastes: The Eastern European origins of Montreal Steak Spice are explained in colourful detail, and the whole is peppered with fascinating sto I thought this would be a cookbook of obscurities. Sometimes it is (you will find, for example, a recipe for the South African milk tart), but it is also more. Gastro Obscura is a vast collection of strange food products, like New Zealand's Gunpowder Rum, or a Canadian soap-flavoured gum called Thrills. But it also contains a diversity of food customs and tastes: The Eastern European origins of Montreal Steak Spice are explained in colourful detail, and the whole is peppered with fascinating stories and anecdotes, including a Canadian maple syrup heist, and a primer on the blossoming mycology scene in Oregon. I liked learning how food is used in Hollywood post-production—in Titanic, the sound of Rose’s ice-covered hair breaking, as she clings to her life-saving plank, is achieved with frozen lettuce—and discovering Fool’s Gold, a sandwich that stole Elvis’s heart (it’s composed of a whole jar of peanut butter, a jar of blueberry jam, and a pound of bacon in hollowed-out bread, and costs $49.95). Even casual foodies will enjoy this volume, which makes an interesting companion to the standard Atlas Obscura. But everyday students of people will find all kinds of joy here, too, particularly those who can’t travel right now and thirst for the weird wonder being lost in a new place affords. The odd person may even find a passion, whether it’s mushrooms, or where to attend world’s only hot pepper school. Thanks to #NetGalley and Workman Publishing for an advance glimpse of this nifty volume!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    To be published on my blog at release: Nonstop Reader. Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide is a fascinating survey of facts, factoids, tidbits, and culinary world history curated and presented by Dylan Thuras and Cecily Wong. Due out 28th Sept 2021 from Workman Publishing, it's 448 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. The layout is arranged with chapters grouped by geographical location: Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, Canada, the USA, Latin America, and Antarctica. To be published on my blog at release: Nonstop Reader. Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide is a fascinating survey of facts, factoids, tidbits, and culinary world history curated and presented by Dylan Thuras and Cecily Wong. Due out 28th Sept 2021 from Workman Publishing, it's 448 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. The layout is arranged with chapters grouped by geographical location: Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, Canada, the USA, Latin America, and Antarctica. Each of the chapters is further divided by country/region. The entries run the gamut from curiosities and weird local tourist destinations to profoundly strange cuisine (casu marzu is peccorino cheese intentionally exposed to the eggs/maggots of the cheese fly - mostly banned these days because of the rare potential for intestinal infestation in humans by the maggots of P. casei). The book is full of photos and interesting sidebars with "How to try it" for many of the entries. The local delicacies and tourist spots are specified in the text. Really adventurous readers could certainly plan outings or even travel holidays around the entries in this encyclopedic volume. Five stars. I can't imagine how much work and reference checking went into the writing of this book. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Brien

    I was so excited to get an early copy of Gastro Obscura to review, and can't wait to buy it in September and spend hours perusing it, planning food vacations and recipes to try, and calling out to my kids, "Hey, listen to this crazy fact!." This over 400 page volume is a mix of history, food tourism, tales of the bizarre, and cultural delights, and the articles are readable and fascinating. If you're familiar with Atlas Obscura, this is from the same people and follows a similar format, organize I was so excited to get an early copy of Gastro Obscura to review, and can't wait to buy it in September and spend hours perusing it, planning food vacations and recipes to try, and calling out to my kids, "Hey, listen to this crazy fact!." This over 400 page volume is a mix of history, food tourism, tales of the bizarre, and cultural delights, and the articles are readable and fascinating. If you're familiar with Atlas Obscura, this is from the same people and follows a similar format, organized by region of the world (with a huge section on the United States) and in encyclopedic articles. Within the first 100 pages or so, I learned what a penny lick is and how it contributed to the spread of tuberculosis, that alcohol was once used as an energy drink for runners, that you can get oysters from a vending machine or preserve milk by putting a live frog in it (but not recommended), and that Danes attack their single friends with spices on their birthdays if they've been unmarried "too long." I now want to try black tahini, t'tu lavash, chimney cake, deep fried lemon leaves, and custard filled pumpkin. I want to visit the world's largest floating restaurant (Jumbo Kingdom in Hong Kong), experience fantasy dining in Japan, and visit ancient Persian ice houses. And I've only read a handful of articles from this treasure of a book! Review copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Darius Ostrowski

    The same folks that made traveling fun again with Atlas Obscura are back with Gastro Obscura, a fun look at the weird things people call food from around the globe. Not only does this book highlight all of the interesting ways that different cultures have adapted “food” to what nature has provided them, but it also provides a bit of history, a bit of culture, a bit of context, and a bunch of humor as well. The book is organized by continent, including Antarctica, and by country. The food descript The same folks that made traveling fun again with Atlas Obscura are back with Gastro Obscura, a fun look at the weird things people call food from around the globe. Not only does this book highlight all of the interesting ways that different cultures have adapted “food” to what nature has provided them, but it also provides a bit of history, a bit of culture, a bit of context, and a bunch of humor as well. The book is organized by continent, including Antarctica, and by country. The food descriptions are supplemented with beautiful pictures and illustrations, as well as a handy “how to experience” blurb for every entry. Not only are different foodstuffs covered, but also festivals, traditions, and quirky facts. Of course, being of Polish heritage, I went to Poland first, and was a bit disappointed at the minimal coverage – I guess we’re just not weird enough (but duck blood soup is covered elsewhere!). And even though this is a book that’s meant to be referenced and flipped through, I ended up reading it cover to cover, mostly over lunch (which always was much more boring than whatever I was reading about). I highly recommend getting this and putting it on the shelf to reference before any upcoming travel. Bon Appetit! I requested and received a free advanced electronic copy from Workman Publishing Company via NetGalley. Thank you!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Violet Laflamme

    I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. What I liked: This book had basically everything I was expecting! There were foods I had never heard of, great photography and illustrations throughout, and enough information with every entry that if anything took my fancy more than a little it was easy enough to track down more information. I also really appreciated the sections that were about a phenomenon rather than one specific food, like certain places to find a I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. What I liked: This book had basically everything I was expecting! There were foods I had never heard of, great photography and illustrations throughout, and enough information with every entry that if anything took my fancy more than a little it was easy enough to track down more information. I also really appreciated the sections that were about a phenomenon rather than one specific food, like certain places to find a type of restaurant, for example. What I didn't like: Always hard to find things I didn't like about a 5* book, but if I had to pick something it would be that I wish some of the entries that were clearly dealing with famous widely available regional foods had listed more than one restaurant in the "how to try" area. However, being pointed at a specific place as an especially good example of something never hurts either. Overall: If you're interested in food or food history, this is a great book. It doesn't go into depth on any one food, choosing to instead cover a vast number of dishes across the entire world. Its strength is as an introduction to what is out there, or as a great coffee table book due to the colourful pictures throughout and short entries

  25. 5 out of 5

    April Gray

    So, the good news is this is a really cool and interesting book that foodies and/or world travelers are going to love. The bad news is, it looks like it's not coming out until September 2021. Still, that'll be in time for Christmas more than a year from now, so yay? This is an interesting book to thumb through even if traveling isn't really a thing right now (at least, not if you're from the U.S.- nobody wants us, and I can't say I blame them). The book is broken up into regions, even including A So, the good news is this is a really cool and interesting book that foodies and/or world travelers are going to love. The bad news is, it looks like it's not coming out until September 2021. Still, that'll be in time for Christmas more than a year from now, so yay? This is an interesting book to thumb through even if traveling isn't really a thing right now (at least, not if you're from the U.S.- nobody wants us, and I can't say I blame them). The book is broken up into regions, even including Antarctica, and my, don't we humans eat some interesting things! Learning the history behind these foods made it even more interesting, and seriously, I wish I could visit so many of these places to try out the local fare. Some of the places are no longer in existence, which is sad, but makes this an informative read for food historians as well. I look forward to seeing this book in the flesh, so to speak, when it does come out- the e-book version I was given to review was well put together, with lots of photos and ephemera related to the various foods covered, and I'm sure it will be even more impressive in person. #GastroObscura #NetGalley

  26. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    As a “foodie” I was intrigued with this book when I saw it on NetGalley. Our family loves to watch food bloggers on YouTube and the weirder the better. Now I do need to let you know that this is NOT just a cookbook. This is a world food adventure you can go on right from the comfort of your favorite chair. There’s loads of images and sketches of the different dishes with the history behind it. You can flip around, go to the countries you want to see first, or do what I did and just start at the As a “foodie” I was intrigued with this book when I saw it on NetGalley. Our family loves to watch food bloggers on YouTube and the weirder the better. Now I do need to let you know that this is NOT just a cookbook. This is a world food adventure you can go on right from the comfort of your favorite chair. There’s loads of images and sketches of the different dishes with the history behind it. You can flip around, go to the countries you want to see first, or do what I did and just start at the beginning and slowly wend my way through the different countries, locales, and specialties. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I think it would be a perfect fit for people who love to learn about where dishes originated from, those who love weird history, and those who love food. I really have to take a moment and tell you how impressed I am with all of the time, effort, and research that had to happen for this book to come about. Kudos to everyone involved. Y’all did an amazing job! **I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and this is my honest and voluntary review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    This is a wonderfully beautiful book! I adored Atlas Obscura and this one was no different. I was amazed at the variety of tidbits from around the world and found myself so drawn in that I read way past when I should have into the night. I find weird history fascinating. This book was a perfect combination of history, travel, culture, and food for me to feel both the pull of wanderlust and the satisfaction of curiosity sated all at once. It is the perfectly bite-sized morsels of information that This is a wonderfully beautiful book! I adored Atlas Obscura and this one was no different. I was amazed at the variety of tidbits from around the world and found myself so drawn in that I read way past when I should have into the night. I find weird history fascinating. This book was a perfect combination of history, travel, culture, and food for me to feel both the pull of wanderlust and the satisfaction of curiosity sated all at once. It is the perfectly bite-sized morsels of information that make it easy to read, fun to pick up for a few minutes or a few hours, and so blissfully curiosity-invoking that I can’t wait to pick it up again and again for inspiration. I am looking forward to giving copies of this to several people in my life (as well as a print copy for myself as well) when it comes out! Many thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the copy for review!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Gastro Obscura is a compilation of fascinating, offbeat, and just plain weird tidbits about food. It's broken down by region, so you can pick a location that interests you and read up on some of their food traditions and techniques, or you can just go straight through the book for the world tour. I enjoyed the heck out of this book! I learned so many things about food and its accoutrements. I never knew what a pickle castor was, much less that I needed one in my life. And who doesn't enjoy learni Gastro Obscura is a compilation of fascinating, offbeat, and just plain weird tidbits about food. It's broken down by region, so you can pick a location that interests you and read up on some of their food traditions and techniques, or you can just go straight through the book for the world tour. I enjoyed the heck out of this book! I learned so many things about food and its accoutrements. I never knew what a pickle castor was, much less that I needed one in my life. And who doesn't enjoy learning about things like the magical cheese-making cave or a museum/gallery with art made from salt-cured bacon fat? This book is filled with little gems of culinary information, with history and travel lore sprinkled in. It's an adventure from the comfort of your favorite reading chair. Thanks to NetGalley and Workman Publishing for the delightful reading experience!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to review a digital ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.. A fascinating look at food from around the world that could make your mouth water or your stomach turn. It is in sections of the world by continent and then by country and area. Each section highlights food festivals, events, items, specialized produce, and strange food eaten by the locals. There are pictures for many of the foods or festivals and some notes to help aid in compr Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to review a digital ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.. A fascinating look at food from around the world that could make your mouth water or your stomach turn. It is in sections of the world by continent and then by country and area. Each section highlights food festivals, events, items, specialized produce, and strange food eaten by the locals. There are pictures for many of the foods or festivals and some notes to help aid in comprehension. Some of the history is more in-depth but most are done in shorter summaries. The HOW TO TRY IT hints are useful as some of the foods are a little weird and wonderful and it may not be obvious how best to indulge in said treats. Given the current lockdown situation, it was a nice trip around the world via food since I can't actually do that in person at the moment.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jo-anne

    If you are a foodie and interested in travel, I would recommend this fascinating tour of the world highlighting the various different ways that countries approach food. On the first page of the section on Great Britain, Bovril is highlighted. Did you know that it was created because of a need to feed the troops of Napoleon III? John Lawson, a Scottish butcher living in Canada, tweaked a recipe for glaze to make the characteristic beefy Bovril fluid. Apparently the Museum of Brands in Notting Hil If you are a foodie and interested in travel, I would recommend this fascinating tour of the world highlighting the various different ways that countries approach food. On the first page of the section on Great Britain, Bovril is highlighted. Did you know that it was created because of a need to feed the troops of Napoleon III? John Lawson, a Scottish butcher living in Canada, tweaked a recipe for glaze to make the characteristic beefy Bovril fluid. Apparently the Museum of Brands in Notting Hill, London has more info if you’re interested. I have created a list of products and/or locations to follow up on when travel becomes more accessible. The Museum of Brands is on it, as is Babae, a buchette del vino in Florence, the Rungis market in Paris, the Sucrerie de la Montagne in Quebec and so much more.

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