cover image The Food Adventurers: How Around-the-World Travel Changed the Way We Eat

The Food Adventurers: How Around-the-World Travel Changed the Way We Eat

Daniel E. Bender. Reaktion, $27.50 (352p) ISBN 978-1-789-14757-5

Historian Bender (American Abyss) scrupulously examines how international travel from 1840 onward shaped the way Americans and Europeans eat. Focusing on “six travellers, two fruits, two hotel chains, one meal and a glass of water,” Bender notes that travelers’ reaction to local delicacies ranged from repulsion in the 19th century—he cites the journals of Austrian widow Ida Pfeiffer, who circled the globe in the mid-1800s and used her meals to “measure the racial status of those she encountered”—to cautious appreciation of local flavors. In the mid-20th century, an influx of international cookbooks allowed culinary adventurers to “circle the globe without ever leaving their own table,” while Conrad Hilton’s chain restaurant, Trader Vic’s, co-opted Polynesian cuisine to offer an “around-the-world” dining experience. In the 21st century, travel “with the express intention of eating local, emerged... as one of the very fastest growing segments of the global tourism industry.” Drawing on contemporaneous diaries, photographs, and cookbooks, Bender provides a window into the twin attitudes of fascination and exoticization that often defined Western perspectives toward international foods and peoples, and explores such issues as colonization, globalization, and cultural appropriation. It’s a riveting study. (Aug.)