Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide Is Useful While Traveling

Today, you probably ate another sandwich for lunch. You’ve already eaten thousands of those things over the last five years if you’re being conservative. Sandwiches made with chicken. Sandwiches comprised of lunch meat. Sandwiches that include a burger. Sandwiches are made entirely of vegetables. Yes, you could be stuck in a rut with grilled cheese sandwiches. Therefore, why not try something new tomorrow? Read Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras’s “Gastro Obscura” to see what else is on the menu.

Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide Is Useful While TravelingNom-nom-nom!

Let’s face it: a large part of the fun of traveling is eating. Whether it’s true Thai cuisine or locally sourced fish, Mom’s secret gravy recipe, or Grandma’s pastries, a good portion of the allure of travel is found on a table someplace. And why not?

Worst-case scenario: you dislike it but tried. In the best-case scenario, you’ll have the best supper you’ve ever had.

Therefore, why not begin with something simple: on your next journey, try Bovril, a “beloved” beef product sold in England as a paste. Travel to Italy and join the queue for a chance to enjoy “what may be the world’s most unusual pasta.” Enjoy a bowl of “Sumo Wrestler Stew” with the knowledge that no wrestlers were hurt in the making of it. These dishes might go well with bread cooked in sand or lava in Libya or the Solomon Islands, as well as some Canadian mustard pickles.

Dylan Thuras, co-author of "Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide"
Gastro Obscura Is Also Useful for Beverages!

If you’re thirsty, how about a Scottish Irn-Bru, a type of soda that contains “.002 percent ammonium ferric citrate.” A Mlíko, or “fluffy beer,” from the Czech Republic may taste fine, and “Naked Boy Tea” may not seem so horrible once you realize it is not made by a real boy. And then there’s dessert: perhaps ice cream disguised as spaghetti, a dish beloved by Germans; or Russian blood sweets made from cow’s blood. But that’s beside the point; how about a stick of gum that openly tastes of soap?

But wait a minute. You’re on the road, remember? Yes, and while you’re out, you could stop by a Texas “Cow’s Head Barbecue,” a Jim Crow South culinary tour, lunch in Mumbai, a chile school, or a Hollywood studio. Bon Appétit!

When you crack open “Gastro Obscura,” you’ll discover an odd phenomenon: much of what you read will make your mouth swim.

Cecily Wong, co-author of "Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide"
Yes, there is much here to make you say “Eww” and curl your lip, but allow authors Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras a paragraph to convince you otherwise. What they’ve prepared in Gastro Obscura: A food Adventurer’s Guide is the types of foodstuffs that hosts in other countries would serve distinguished guests. Some of the dishes are centuries old, passed down through generations of cooks; others are modern interpretations of classic dishes that you may already appreciate. In Gastro Obscura, you can find delicacies for children, once-in-a-lifetime bucket-list items for discriminating palates, and simple-to-learn comfort foods for young adults — and if you’re not convinced, there are surely some recipes to try.

Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide is like taking a vacation for your stomach, and no foodie should be without it.