Ever let your appetite guide your global travel? Anthony Bourdain did. The revered wordsmith, traveller and epicurean passed away in 2018, but left in his wake decades of intrepid and insightful journeys across his many books and his hit show, Parts Unknown. Now, his longtime assistant (or ‘lieutenant’ as Bourdain called her) Laurie Woolever, is bringing to life the book they were working on before his tragic death. World Travel: An irreverent Guide collates Bourdain’s wry wisdom and advice for eating your way across the globe. Here, we select five of his most unexpected destinations to add to your bucket list once restrictions are lifted.
World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain with Laurie Woolever is published on 20 April 2021.
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“There are very few places left in this world like Mozambique,” said Anthony Bourdain. This East-African country may well have never crossed your mind as a holiday destination. In many ways, Bourdain almost doesn’t want you to go in the hope that this extraordinary place will remain undisturbed by tourism. He paints a picture of a beautiful place, marred by a troubled and tragic history of rapacious colonialism and violent civil war, that has remained a nation of vibrant culture, stunning scenery, friendly people and – yes – delicious food. With multiple global influences, Mozambique’s food is a blend of Brazilian spices, Indian curries, Arab and Asian flavours. It is also, of course, the home of the beloved local pepper piri-piri which has found fame in a certain UK chain restaurant. The most ardent validation surely comes from Bourdain himself, who declared Mozambican cuisine, “the best food I’ve had in Africa.”
You may remember this Chinese gambler’s paradise from James Bond’s Skyfall. This small autonomous region on the South Coast of China is described by Bourdain as a mysterious place run by thrills. One, of course, is the obsession with chips, cards and big wins, the other is bungee jumping off the 1,109-foot high Macau Tower. It is the world’s largest jump and, as Bourdain explained “for six long seconds, but strangely not long enough, you’re swimming through air, and life don’t hurt anymore.” Macanese cuisine is naturally another draw. It is influenced by Portuguese settlers, who brought with them tastes accumulated in Africa and India. He recommends, in between gambling and throwing yourself off buildings, dining at APOMAC, an old civil servant’s retirement club which serves quintessential dishes of grilled seafood, stews, and curries as well as minchi – minced pork or beef seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, soy, brown sugar, pepper, cinnamon, and curry powder, and served with stir-fried or deep-fried cubed potatoes, white rice, and a fried egg.
Bourdain described Taiwan as an ‘alternative China’, one which is more closely welded to its traditions and, crucially, more connected to its rich culinary world. Here, you’ll find some of the most exciting street food in Asia; rice pot sticker soup, shredded pork and steamed buns. The book talks of electric night markets brimming with life, light and the pungent aromas of seafood and five-spice powder. His top tip for Taipei? Just check in to a hotel and eat your way through the streets. “I’ve been to a lot of street markets,” he said. “But this is truly a wonderland.”
Trinidad and Tobago
Two islands, one country, two very different ways of life. Bourdain hailed these Caribbean islands as a blend of cultures, religions, ethnicities and more, brought together by a chequered past of colonialism, slavery and recent wealth. It is a country rich in music and spirit (just think of its carnivals) with bustling towns and unspoilt beaches alike. The food is a blend of Caribbean classics- big on seafood- but also has a profound Indian influence. One of these is ‘doubles’- a Caribbean take on the Indian channa bhatura: two floppy, soft Indian-style bread, loaded with curried chickpeas, pepper sauce, and mango. “Structurally, I have questions,” he said of its sloppy construction. “But I like it. It’s really, really good.”
Bourdain visited Lagos, the Nigerian capital, which he called its ‘megacity’ and found it a vibrant, bold place with a mix of extreme wealth and extreme poverty. He fell in love with the city’s energy, its bustle and dynamism and the ingenuity and friendliness of the people, from those who live on the waterways of impoverished Makoko to others from the “garden of dreams” on Lagos’ upscale Victoria Island. Across the city, he found the best food was to be found in bukas – known as “Mama Put” restaurants, which takes its name from the fact that the food is so good, a regular customer might request that the proprietor, aka the “Mama” put some more on his plate. Here you will find pounded yam in egusi soup, thick with goat, melon seeds, and chillis in a fish stock base.
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