If you grow up, as I did, in a place like Logansport, Indiana, you figure out pretty quickly that all the truly interesting parts of the world are somewhere else. The main point of travel is to expose oneself to other cultures, and in many cases, it is the local foods that carry a people’s cultural identity. Belgium would just not be Belgium if the Belgians didn’t argue with the French over who makes the best pommes frites! (Advantage: Belgium.) Who can say that they have really been to Bologna if they have never washed down a plate of Pasta Bolognese with a water glass of cheap red wine in the shadow of the Piazza Maggiore? Or to Malaysia if they have never choked back a tear from a dish of chili pan mee? Or to Turkey if their palates are ignorant of börek or kuzu tandir? Or for that matter to Mexico if the only enchilada you’ve ever eaten came from the local Taco Bell? With travel comes culinary adventure, whether it is a “proper English breakfast” in Durham, England, a grilled baby octopus in Barcelona, a jug of the local red wine in Cinque Terre, a fiery-hot curry in Penang, or a sweet cup of thick black Turkish coffee in Istanbul.
More than I Have Seen is a collection of observations, reflections, and polemics concerning food and travel that I have written in spurts over the past thirty years. There is no overarching theme and certainly no pretension to scholarly merit, although I have been unable to resist commenting on points sociological and cultural from time to time. These essays have been gathered up and published as this book because people have told me that my writings about food and travel are informative and enjoyable; the book is the test whether that is true. What I can say unambiguously is that if they prove half as fun to read as they were to write, I shall have succeeded in my modest aspirations for this volume.
The title is taken from an observation of Benjamin Disraeli: “Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen…”
“…some really good writing here…The Guatemala material (your ‘neo-Marxian rage’ and the maids’ stories are excellent) and the road-kill discussion (I had no clue PETA had a position) were very compelling…the ‘world through food & travel” approach should get some traction’ — Sian Hunter, University Press of Florida
Book Status: Complete to first draft stage and wholly revised twice. Pp. 247 (double-spaced). 81,842 words. To review the manuscript or converse with me about it, be in touch.