George ’75 edits travelers’ tales of food and place

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New Book: A Moveable Feast: Life-Changing Food Adventures Around the World, edited by Don George ’75 (Lonely Planet Publications)

The author: A seasoned travel writer and editor, George frequently appears as a travel expert in print, on radio, and on TV. He has edited four other literary anthologies for Lonely Planet Publications, including The Kindness of Strangers and By the Seat of My Pants, and is a contributing editor for National Geographic Traveler, a columnist for the travel website Gadling.com, and host of the adventure travel site Don’s Place.  
 
The book: In his latest anthology, George has collected 38 short essays by chefs, food critics, poets, and travel writers, who share tales in which, writes George in his introduction, “food is an agent of transformation, taking travelers to a deeper and more lasting understanding of and connection with a people, a place and a culture.” In his essay, “Daily Bread,” Pico Iyer reflects on regular retreats he takes to a Benedictine monastery in California, where he shares Sunday lunch with the monks. In “Just What the Doctor Ordered,” Alexander Lobrano recalls the “spontaneous hospitality” of a group of doctors and the “magical meal” he shared with them in a roadside Portuguese tavern.

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Opening lines of George’s introduction: “I had ventured way off the beaten track, into a weather-beaten fishing village on a foggy spit of land that slides into the Sea of Japan. Because I spoke Japanese and was the first foreigner who had passed that way in decades, I became the town’s guest of honour, and I was taken with great ceremony to what I gathered was the local equivalent of El Bulli or Chez Panisse.

            “I was feted with the usual bottomless cups of sake and glasses of beer, and the endless succession of little indescribable delicacies artfully arranged on thimble-sized plates. Then, for a moment, the whole restaurant seemed to pause as a dish was carried regally to the table and set before me. It was a whole fish, arranged with its head and tail twisted to look as if it were still leaping. It’s flank had been cut open to reveal thin-cut slices of glisteningly fresh flesh.”
 
Reviews: Rich Cahalan, a blogger for Wine Imbiber, wrote, “You are transported around the globe and treated to bite–sized literary appetizers that are truly delicious but leave just enough room for another helping.” The seriouseasts.com reviewer Leah Douglas observed, “Each author offers a lesson learned, and usually the lesson comes about through a truly humbling experience. One writer gets a crash course in the generous Nepali spirit when he accidentally drops a celebratory roast chicken on the earthen floor — and is immediately forgiven. Such hospitality to the foreigner and guest is the overarching theme of most of these tales of displacement.”