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Book Reviews

A Fork in the Road: Tales of Food and Travel

by Anik See

The travellers who really get to know a place are the ones who embrace the culture they find and the people they meet, venturing off the tourist track and into the homes of strangers. As Karen Connelly wrote in Touch the Dragon, “Countries live in people.” One cannot understand a culture without tasting its food and accepting its hospitality.

In an impressive first book, A Fork in the Road, Anik See takes the reader with her on a series of remarkable journeys, as she pedals through Patagonia, joins a harvest table in Georgia, and crashes a wedding in a small town in Argentina. Each chapter is a different journey, rich with description and peopled with local characters who welcome her into their homes, even when food and human kindness are the only ways to transcend language differences.

See, who for six years was the food researcher for James Barber’s popular television cooking series The Urban Peasant, has a naturally curious palate. She writes enthusiastically about the foods she eats along the way and provides recipes for local dishes at the end of each chapter. All of the recipes are enticing, but (as one might expect) many of them require obscure ingredients and a level of culinary sophistication that only the well-travelled are likely to muster. Impracticalities aside, each recipe acts as a memento, enriching See’s stories.

There are some missing pieces, however. See is an observer, and seems to be far more comfortable narrating her impressions than revealing herself. Although she talks generally about the traveller’s perspective, and about the need to allow oneself to be humbled by another culture, See leaves the reader wondering about her own motivation.

The real strength of A Fork in the Road lies in its ability to whet the reader’s appetite for adventure, dissolving cultural barriers, taking the strange out of strangers and making adventure halfway around the world appear effortless.