After the last year, you’ll be happy to go wherever it sticks. Overseas, this continent, Down Under, in the middle of the ocean, it all sounds good. So pack your bags and don’t forget “World Travel” by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever.
In early 2017, when they began kicking around the idea of another project, Woolever noted that Anthony Bourdain was already awfully booked. He was traveling, writing, working on TV, and had a new publishing imprint. Was another travel guide necessary?
She’d been his assistant for some eight years by then and she couldn’t turn him down when he started thinking about this book. They met once, to plan it, before he died.
In the two years after his death, she started to see that, indeed, the world needed one final word from Bourdain. Though this book was meant to be different, consisting of memoir-essays he would write, she began to understand that she had everything she needed to finish what he’d envisioned, through TV clips, past books, notes, and interviews with friends.
Starting with Argentina, Bourdain said he found “more headshrinkers per capita than anywhere else in the world.” He was prepared to dislike Vienna, but did not. He explained why Cambodia surprised him, and why he was totally enchanted by Cuba. He described massages and saunas in Finland; “bespoke” shoes in London; unique, unforgettable smells in Vietnam; racism in Kenya; driving next to wildlife in the Serengeti; gambling in Macau; and he wondered why Americans don’t “love” Mexico more.
He wrote of eating Sichuan cooking in Australia, and said that food was a big reason to go to Montreal. He wrote of going to a chop bar in Ghana and dancing; enjoying doubles in Trinidad; and sampling a world’s cuisine in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Massachusetts, Montana, New Orleans, Miami, and his beloved New York.
While you might find this book in the biography section or maybe with the travel guides in your library or bookstore, the fact is that “World Travel” is really more of a celebration.
The fete is strongest when the late author Anthony Bourdain’s friends, family, and colleagues remember him. Those pages feel like a literary memorial service or the after-gathering, when everybody gets together to share stories and toast the deceased.
Then, though not every spot in the world has its own entry in this book, it’s close. Not every gustatory delight that Bourdain ever enjoyed gets a mention but you’ll find enough to satisfy your appetite, including the names of the places you’ll find those dishes (a good-thing-bad-thing, author Laurie Woolever writes in her introduction). Mostly, though, in the bulk of this book, you’ll find encouragement to seize every chance you get to roam the world, to see what Bourdain saw, and to challenge your tastebuds with cultural cuisine.
Overall, this book is a no-brainer for a fan. It’ll please any cook, any world-traveler, any been-home-too-long roamer, and every foodie around. For anyone who eats, “World Travel” is on-point.