Cheryl and Bill Jamison, renowned cookbook and travel guide authors, describe their whirlwind three-month-long trip around the world in Around the World in 80 Dinners, a book that celebrates the gastronomic pleasures to be found in travel. Using their huge stockpile of frequent flier miles, the Jamisons booked a trip that most people can only fantasize about: Bali, Australia, New Caledonia, Singapore, Thailand, India, China, South Africa, France and Brazil.
Their main focus is on eating the authentic food from each country, and not the sanitized, bland, Westernized fare that most tourists seek. In this, they are mostly successful, and their enthusiastic descriptions of their unusual and memorable meals are enough to make anyone's mouth water. In many situations, they find food in very off the beaten path places, even in a tourist mecca such as France.
However, this book doesn't focus solely on food. The Jamisons make a lot of keen observations about life and culture in each city they visit, and about tourists and the tourism industry in each country in general. The book is also filled with a lot of useful, common sense tips on how to pack and prepare for travel.
The Jamisons' personalities shine throughout the book, which gave me a sense that they are people with whom I would love to travel. In fact, they had a travel companion with them throughout the book - the children's storybook character Flat Stanley - who posed for pictures in all their destinations and even helped them to reach out to the locals in some cases.
For people who love both food and travel, Around the World in 80 Dinners is something to be savored slowly, like a multi-course meal. It made me both hungry and very eager to embark on my next travel adventure. Anyone who is planning travel to any of these ten countries would do well to read this book, but it's also great reading for those of us who have to be content with armchair traveling.