The elegiac outpouring that followed Anthony Bourdain’s death in June was one indication of the outsize influence he’s had on modern travel priorities. His globe-trotting TV programs celebrated food as a cultural conduit whose importance rivals, if not tops, that of a destination’s museums or historic sites.
Allyson Johnson, senior editorial project manager, books, at National Geographic, can’t help but think of Bourdain when discussing the potential impact of the forthcoming Tasting Italy (Oct.). “He was one of the biggest proponents of being open-minded toward new places and exploring them through food,” she says. She calls Tasting Italy “a celebration of connection and the idea of food as love.”
A collaboration between National Geographic and America’s Test Kitchen, the book features essays written by Italian food authority Julia Della Croce and food journalist Eugenia Bone, with an introduction by ATK’s Jack Bishop, and includes 30 maps, 100 ATK-tested regional recipes, and 300 photos. Location-specific details—the distinctions between various wine-growing regions, the best farmers’ markets in Venice—lend a strong sense of place.
Similarly, in Copenhagen Food (Quadrille, Oct.), Trine Hahnemann, a chef who has lived in the city for more than 40 years, offers 70 Scandinavian recipes and also introduces readers to her favorite Copenhagen retreats. She describes playing tourist at Hotel Babette in the Frederiksstaden neighborhood, for instance, and recommends that visitors experience local coffee culture at Kafferiet.
At Countryman Press, the new Travel to Eat series also uses cuisine as a window into city life. The books are “personality driven,” says Ann Treistman, editorial director at Countryman—meant to engage readers via a knowledgeable, opinionated, trusted voice.
Part of the mission is to highlight “less heralded cities, places people really love,” Treistman says. Buffalo, for instance, has inspired rhapsodic odes to its chicken wings, the dish for which it may be best known. In August’s Buffalo Everything, travel and food writer Arthur Bovino includes a “wing trail” to help readers sample the best offerings, but also sets out to prove that the city’s culinary canon is far richer. He showcases the cuisine of the long-standing local Polish community, such as the pierogi at RL Lounge, a fixture since 1969, and eateries that reflect a new-wave immigration shift—for instance, the Burmese, Ethiopian, and other food stalls at West Side Bazaar.
March 2019 brings L.A. by Mouth by Mike Postalakis, a Los Angeles comedian who also writes about travel and food for various websites. Although sophisticated rooftop spots and longtime power-lunch dens are covered, Postalakis puts the focus on taco culture, hangover-helper brunch spots, and a strip mall Vietnamese joint in the Valley championed by late, beloved food critic Jonathan Gold.
Other culinary travel guides offer a global perspective. Lannoo emphasizes FOMO with a pair of titles, August’s 150 Bars You Need to Visit Before You Die by Jurgen Lijcops, a sommelier and owner of Antwerp’s Bar Barbure, and January 2019’s 150 Restaurants You Need to Visit Before You Die by Amélie Vincent of the Foodalist blog, which features restaurant reviews and chef interviews.
In addition to calling out what’s special about each bar—at London’s Milk Honey, for instance, “the ice is hand-cut from a twice-frozen block of mineral water”—Lijcops includes recipes for classic cocktails such as the Manhattan, the Negroni, and the gin fizz. Vincent profiles some of the globe’s most buzzed-about restaurants—including Virgilio Martínez Véliz’s Central Restaurante in Lima, Julien Royer’s Odette in Singapore, and Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London—inviting readers to plan their trips around a meal.
Phaidon has already put out a sweeping compilation of its own: Where Chefs Eat. The 2018 edition includes more than 4,500 restaurants in more than 70 countries, recommended by an international roster of 650 chefs. Its successor is Where to Drink Beer (Oct.), edited by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø (a Noma alum who started Evil Twin Brewing). Gathering more than 1,600 recommendations in 70 countries from 500 brewers, “it doesn’t pretend to be exhaustive and say, ‘These are all the places in the world to have a beer,’ ” Emilia Terragni, Phaidon’s publisher, says. “We ask these people, who in our opinion know a lot, where they would go.” And the hope, as with all of these guides, is that thirsty—or hungry—travelers will follow.