I wrote a few months ago about the idea of a food life list, the one-of-a-kind eating experiences that make delicious goals for ourselves and ultimately add wonderful gastronomic richness to our lives. I was a bit stimied in trying to come up with my own to-do list of gotta-have foods, but something that landed on my doorstep yesterday may go a long way in helping me flesh out that list.
I’d almost forgotten about the 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die project I’d worked on last year. This book is very much a global look at (for the most part) interesting foods, from the Icelandic dark rye bread Rúgbraud to hop shoots (which some Washington hop growers sell) to morcilla dulce, a sweet blood sausage from Uruaguay. I contributed a dozen entries, one of the North American contributors for this British production. A few were subjects near and dear to me–geoduck, Dungeness crab–others more general players in the American repertoire, including brownies, maple syrup and Smithfield ham.
In many ways, this is like a mini encyclopedia of ingredients, focusing much more on raw products–vegetables, fruits, herbs, meats, types of dairy, nuts, legumes, etc.–than on prepared dishes, though there are a number of breads, cakes, candies included too. So it’s not quite “food life list” material in the way that, say, traveling to northern Spain for authentic paella would be. Or traveling side roads of Mexico and stopping for freshly steamed tamales with a glass of fresh pineapple juice (which I’ve done, and highly recommend). The collection of profiles, each a few hundred words, covers a lot more territory than my other go-to resources like Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz’ wonderful The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings, though each profile goes into far less detail than does such a book.
However, for cooks and travelers who want a handy, photo-heavy quick reference for a thousand-plus-one foods (most of which have ID shots), this will make for a solid addition to those already-full shelves.