Edited by James Oseland
Lonely Planet Publications, 2013
ISBN: 978 1 74321 844 0
Paperback 334 pages $15.99
For those of us to enjoy collecting cookbooks, every recipe can mean a vicarious meal. If just reading about a dish is not as vivid as the actual preparation and consumption, it does save on calories and cost of ingredients. Though it contains no recipes, A Fork in the Road can also provide such pleasures.
Editor James Oseland has assembled a collection of 34 essays on food. Or are they on travel? Really they are both. Some have been penned by people familiar as writers, such as Rita Mae Brown, Frances Mayes and Gael Greene. Other entries are made by those known for their prowess in the kitchen like celebrity chefs Curtis Stone and Martin Yan. All are very readable and some are examples of really excellent writing.
None of the tales was exactly like any of my own experiences with food away from home, but some reminded me of places I had been. David Kamp writes of the Maple Cottage in New Hampshire, a retreat where his family would spend a week or two every summer. Meals were prepared by the proprietor, Mr. Fletcher. Apparently it was as much boarding house as resort, but it was affordable and sounds like a wonderful escape from their urban existence. Beth Kracklauer's reminiscence, “The Importance of Chicken Livers,” brings the reader to Kentucky in a different time and place when The Doe Run Inn was a favorite family dining spot.
Some pieces triggered the urge to visit places I've never seen like Sri Lanka and Jakarta. Food is really such an integral part of travel. Gathering, preparing and consuming it reveal much about a culture different from one's own. A Fork in the Road takes the reader in so many different directions. Perhaps not every one will satisfy the reader, but it's likely most of them will.
--reviewed by Dan Clarke