For travellers who are led by their stomachs, few things are as exciting as making restaurant reservations, researching dishes, and planning entire routes and schedules around that one specialty which simply cannot be missed. If that sounds like you, then get your passport ready: these 10 books will help you choose your next delicious destination, whether it’s a place you’ve been dreaming about or somewhere you’d never thought of going before. 

Like Water for Chocolate
Where To: Mexico
A classic of the magical realism genre, this novel by Laura Esquivel will transport you to the era of the Mexican Revolution to meet young Tita, whose life has been deeply connected to the kitchen since her birth. As the youngest daughter in the De la Garza family, Tita is destined, according to family tradition, to stay single and take care of her mother as she ages. However everything changes when she falls madly in love with Pedro, unleashing a series of events tinted with plenty of passion, drama and flavour. As you read Tita’s story, you will read her recipes as well, each one showing her unique way of expressing her emotions through her cooking.

Convenience Store Woman
Where To: Japan
Japanese convenience stores are the stuff of foodie legend – and with good reason. Few countries can brag about offering as fascinating an array of snacks and drinks as Japan and its unique corner shops. Working part-time at one of these stores inspired author Sayaka Murata to write this delightful novel that tells the story of Keiko, an 18-year-old who tends to feel like a fish out of water in her Tokyo life. Once she starts working at Smile Mart, Keiko feels an ease she’s never experienced before, and her journey offers a peculiar view – both into Japanese culture and the universal journey to find out who we want to be.

Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chefs’ Favourite Restaurants
Where To: (Almost) Any Destination
Think of this tome as a restaurant encyclopaedia, researched and reported by more than 650 chefs who’ve travelled the world. Divided geographically by country and city, it’s as easy to navigate as it is fun to read. Whether you have a clear destination in mind, or you’re searching for inspiration, you’ll find over 4,500 restaurants across more than 70 countries, ranging from super-casual street food joints to fine dining temples and hidden local gems, as well as everything in between. Clever insights from chefs like Massimo Bottura and Virgilio Martínez will help you dodge a much-feared travel mistake: a bad meal.

Kitchen Confidential
Where To: New York City
Everything that Anthony Bourdain produced – from his magazine articles to his TV shows – makes us want to grab our bags and go. But with Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain takes us where few have gone before: the depths of the culinary industry. First published in 2000, this book remains as thrilling, fascinating and entertaining as ever. Sure, New York today may not be the same city Bourdain navigated as a young, ambitious, hard-partying chef – after all, we can think of few cities that change as quickly as it does – but its gastronomic appeal surely stands.

Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture
Where To: Spain
A rich, complex landscape where food is culture and culture is food, Spain is a dream destination for many a flavour-obsessed traveller. On this journey, food journalist Matt Goulding traverses the country in search of its most remarkable dishes and ingredients, and speaks with the people who bring them to life. With stops in Madrid, Valencia, San Sebastián and beyond, every page is a mouthwatering portrait of the Spanish passion for good food and, most of all, enjoying life around the table. Should you become a fan – which we’re sure you will – check out his books on Italy and Japan.

Where To: California
California’s Santa Ynez Valley is the setting for this charming novel by Rex Pickett, a story that is as much about wine as it is about friendship. Seven days before his wedding, the dashing Jack and his recently divorced friend Miles embark on a road trip to wine country. While Jack is searching for one last adventure before he ties the knot, Miles is dealing with a personal and professional crisis – all of which ensures the trip will be interesting, to say the least. Luckily, there is plenty of wine to be had.

Comfort Me with Apples
Where To: From California To China (To Your Own Kitchen)
Legendary food writer and editor Ruth Reichl has the ability to capture emotion just as brilliantly as she does flavours, smells and textures, making this autobiographical book an absolute treat to read. Through deeply personal storytelling, she takes us back to the late seventies, when she was first offered a job as a food critic. As she dines in places like Los Angeles, Paris and China, she navigates love, loss and self-doubt with humour and honesty. Wherever you plan to travel, you’ll wish for a companion like Reichl at the table.

The Land Where Lemons Grow
Where To: Italy
Bright, beautiful lemons are a symbol of Italian regions like the Amalfi Coast and Sicily, where you can find them on everything from cakes to pasta sauces and tote bags. Lemons are also the stars of this book, in which Helena Attlee leads us along a fascinating journey through Italian history, seen through the lens of its citrus crops. As you learn about Tuscan gardens and the mafia’s involvement in Sicilian citrus crops, we suggest you read this one with a glass of Limoncello in hand.

Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table
Where To: New Orleans
From crawfish to Sazeracs to beignets to the dish that gives this book its name, Nola cuisine is a mind-blowing blend of culinary and cultural influences, a perfect reflection of this city unlike any other. Born in Wisconsin but finding a new home in Louisiana, writer Sara Roahen delves into the city’s rich gastronomic landscape and celebrates its power to unite those who live there – especially after Hurricane Katrina – with deep pride and love for their hometown and its flavours.

A Fork in the Road
Where To: Everywhere
Edited by James Oseland, this Lonely Planet anthology features 34 stories by authors like Alan Richman, Gael Greene and Marcus Samuelsson, depicting the joys, surprises and occasional challenges that eating while travelling entails. From a wedding in India to BBQ in Georgia, delight in each author’s unique voice and adventures, and let your appetite inspire your next flight.

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