TAKE BIG BITES: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table

Linda Ellerbee, Author
Linda Ellerbee, Author . Putnam $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-15268-9
Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Hardcover - 520 pages - 978-0-7862-7843-5
Paperback - 302 pages - 978-0-425-20973-8
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Claiming to be neither food writer nor chef, longtime TV newswoman Ellerbee calls herself "a recovering journalist who's traveled and eaten her way around the planet and lived to tell some tales." She fantasizes about doing something she thinks is unattainable, namely, writing for food and travel magazines ("Imagine being paid to eat, travel and write about that, instead of the bombing down the block"). But she does better than that, writing a witty, easy-to-read book about food that's also a blend of autobiography, travelogue and self-help. While weaving interesting yarns about visits to such places as the Appalachian Trail, Bolivia and Vietnam, Ellerbee makes both humorous and poignant observations about ethnic food ("phô [Vietnam's national breakfast dish] beats the devil out of a bowl of Wheaties"); the task of trying to age gracefully; her relationships with friends and family; and the motley strangers she's met in her travels. Ellerbee also modestly admits to rarely eating in three-star restaurants and proceeds to describe a dish at one: "a little thingy of fried potato topped with a doodle of mashed potato and a dabble of olives and dried tuna roe.... Does this description sufficiently explain why I'm not a food critic?" As an extra bonus for foodies, each chapter ends with a relevant recipe or two. Agent, Mel Berger at William Morris. (May)

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