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10 Best Food Travel Books

Help yourself to a fascinating new read.


We travel for all sorts of reasons: to experience new places, new people, and new perspectives. To see parts of the world that we might not ever see otherwise, and to enjoy different landscapes, different lifestyles, and different cultures. Of course, a big part of culture is food, and for many people, sampling cuisine from all over the world is reason enough to travel, all on its own.

While music, art, literature, and so on tend to be what people think of first when you say “culture,” food is perhaps the most important thing that links us all together. We all have to eat, and the foods we eat, the ways they are prepared, and the ways we enjoy them all shape our culture and our lives in ways that are both obvious and invisible. That’s why going on a food journey is about more than just sampling delicacies that you’ve never tasted before—it’s about experiencing a different culture in an intimate, important way, and learning more about the world around you.

So, it should come as no surprise that travelogues focused on food are all the rage. From shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Man v. Food to books enough to choke either the travel or food sections of the bookstore, we can’t get enough of learning about food from around the world. And the next best thing to going there is reading about it. These 5 food travel books do more than take you on a tour of world kitchens, though. They also take you into the history of the food itself, combining culinary ethnography with personal travelogue to create a new and fascinating combination.

Amish Cooks Across America

Amish Cooks Across America

By Kevin Williams, Lovina Eicher

Part recipe book and part travelogue, Amish Cooks Across America not only explores Amish recipes as a whole, but it also provides insight into the varying meals between different Amish and Mennonite groups across the United States, Canada, and South America. For example, it will explain why the Northeast Amish community prefers Shoofly Pie while Southern Amish communities prefer Muscadine Pie by examining their subtle cultural and culinary differences. It's full of vibrant photographs of the food and places visited, as well as profiles examining the origins and cooking traditions of each community. 

Bread and Oil

Bread and Oil

By Tomas Graves

Bread and Oil is an inventive book that is part adventure log, history book, travelogue, restaurant guide, and part cookbook. And it's steeped in cultural knowledge. Bread and oil is a staple meal all across the Mediterranean, and has been for centuries. Tomás Graves uses bread and oil as a jumping-off point for studying Mediterranean cooking, agriculture, traditions, and historical events that have saved this peasant dish from extinction along with a way of life that has changed little from Roman times on the island of Majorca. 

Using bread and oil, Graves unearths philosophies about class structure, love, war, and all the important cultural pieces that make Majorca, Majorca. Try a recipe for yourself and watch the island come to life right before your very eyes (and taste buds). 

American Tacos

American Tacos

By Jose R. Ralat

We all have one friend that's a taco enthusiast; and today, it's José Ralat. Americans took the taco and ran with it, and José was determined to discover every taco variety that America has to offer. 

He went from coast to coast visiting 38 cities, and discovered the crunchy taco, new Alta California tacos, Tex-Mex tacos like the puffy taco or breakfast taco, fry bread tacos, kosher tacos, regional hybrid tacos, and chef-driven tacos. Featuring the stories behind how each taco came to be, interviews with taqueros, and all there is to know about taco culture, this book truly explores the diverse taco landscape within our borders.

america's best food cities

America's Best Food Cities

By Tom Sietsema

This is the Washington Post Food Critic's guide to eating at the top 10 culinary capitals in the nation. Tom Sietsema visited 271 different establishments while reporting for his America's Best Food Cities project, and tells us how each city measured up in terms of creativity, community, tradition, ingredients, shopping, variety, and service. 

He compiled a list of short descriptions of the places he visited, along with the best thing he ate in each city, and signature recipes from must-stop restaurants so that we can make the meals at home too. 

around the world in 80 food trucks

Around the World in 80 Food Trucks

By Lonely Planet Food

Travel guide book publisher Lonely Planet took to the streets to collect 80 delicious recipes from food trucks around the world. Discover how to make the dishes, get to know the chefs who created them, and hear the stories behind how the recipes came to be. 

The best part about operating out of a food truck is that the chefs can take experiences from their personal travels, immigrant backgrounds, and local influences to produce meals that are innovative, tasty, and sustainable. Within these pages, there are featured food trucks from: Barcelona,Tijuana, Austin, The Gold Coast, Melbourne, Lima, and many more unique places.

Olive Odyssey

Olive Odyssey

By Julie Angus

Descended from Syrian forebears, Julie Angus decided to explore their cultural link to the olive, a fruit that has been a staple of cooking for people throughout the Mediterranean and around the world. 

The result is “an engaging mix of history, food travelogue, and botany lesson” (Library Journal) as Angus, her husband, and their 10-month-old son explore the Mediterranean to find not only the history of the olive, but what it means to people there today. 

They taste delicious food, take samples from ancient trees, and even travel to the isle of Crete to find what may be the oldest olive tree in the world. “It is a pleasure to try to keep up with this book,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “Like its author, it covers an enormous amount of territory.”

The Spice Necklace

The Spice Necklace

By Ann Vanderhoof

This book from the author of An Embarrassment of Mangoes follows the author and her husband as they sail around the Caribbean in their private galley, sampling the local cuisine, getting to know colorful characters, and attempting to replicate dishes in their own kitchen. 

From curry in Trinidad to a chocolate-tasting test at the University of the West Indies, the result is “a mouthwatering slice of Caribbean culture” (New York Post) that also features 71 exciting and mouth-watering recipes, each tucked into the back of the relevant chapter, in case you want to try making some of these incredible dishes in the comfort of your own home.

best food travel books

Drive-Thru Dreams

By Adam Chandler

Not every culinary travelogue has to cross the wide-open seas. In Drive-Thru Dreams, author Adam Chandler takes us on a cross-country trip through the history of America’s fascination with fast food. 

“This fun, argumentative, and frequently surprising pop history of American fast food will thrill and educate food lovers of all speeds,” according to Publishers Weekly, as Chandler takes readers through the history of an American staple that has since spread across the world, from White Castle establishing the hamburger as the all-American fast food du jour to a viral tweet in 2017 angling for a year’s supply of chicken nuggets. 

Fast food is often discounted or dismissed, but in this “book to savor” (Bookpage), Chandler argues that it is as much a part of American culture as anything else—maybe more.

best food travel books

Gastro Obscura

By Cecily Wong, Dylan Thuras & Atlas Obscura

For those who aren’t already familiar with Atlas Obscura, it’s the indispensable guide to the strangest, most unlikely, and most unforgettable places in the world. From abandoned amusement parks to ancient caves, Atlas Obscura has taken readers all over the planet, both in the form of its website and various books. 

With Gastro Obscura, it departs on a new journey—one into the realm of the world’s unlikeliest food cultures. “Like a great tapas meal, Gastro Obscura is deep yet snackable, and full of surprises,” according to chef Tom Colicchio. “This is the book for anyone interested in eating, adventure and the human condition.” 

New York Times bestseller, this unforgettable book takes readers not only to all seven continents but also across history, from Egypt’s 2,000-year-old egg ovens to a tea house situated atop China’s Mount Hua. 

Not everything is far away or long ago, either. In Texas, there’s a vending machine that produces full-sized pecan pies, and always another surprise or wonder waiting just around the corner. So dig in!

best food travel books

The Food and Folklore Reader

By Lucy Long

While most of the books on this list are quaint or charming travelogues, combining culinary history with personal memoir, sometimes we want to dig a little deeper. That’s where a book like The Food and Folklore Reader comes in. 

A comprehensive guide to a subject too-seldom discussed—the intersection of the food we eat and the stories we tell—this expansive work compiled by renowned folklorist and food scholar Lucy M. Long “has culled the archives of the field, using seminal works that define folklore as well as articles that explore more contemporary issues such as food insecurity and culinary tourism” (Digest: A Journal of Foodways and Culture). The result may be a heavier and denser read, but it’s no less fascinating for all that.