One for the Road: Where Flavor Was Born

The photo on the cover of this travelogue cookbook has my mouth watering! And from what I can tell, the pages in between offer up much more eye candy for hungry travelers who like to cook. Where Flavor Was Born: Recipes and Culinary Travels Along the Indian Ocean Spice Route is a delicious journey that explores the origins of spices from Bali to Zanzibar.

The colorful book is loaded with glossy photos and almost 100 recipes, like this one for Indian Pepper Chicken. Need more tempting? Here are three more freebies that use curry from India, tamarind sauce from Thailand and cloves from Zanzibar. Food writer and TV chef Andreas Viestad (known for his New Scandinavian Cooking show), is the tour guide for this adventure of taste. The book is organized by spice, and includes a glossary for easy reference, which should be helpful when you’re up to your eyeballs in cardamom and coriander in the kitchen!

One for the Road: Into Hot Air

Funny man Chris Elliott has taken his comedy to new heights in his third book, a comic spoof on a classic travel adventure that was released last month. Into Hot Air: Mounting Mount Everest is a novel that pokes fun at, well, just about everything, including the author himself. Elliott’s narrator, also named Elliott, wonders if it really was Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first to scale Everest. The discovery of a diary written by a crazy great uncle begins the questioning, and readers are dragged along on a mysterious and laugh-out-loud journey that includes a cast of all-star celebrities.

Elliott depicts epic adventure at its funniest, and ” …also takes aim at disaster movies, celebrity activism, and reality TV shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race.” As Chris explains in this recent Gothamist interview, CNN and the titles of other folks books did inspire some aspects of his own story: “It’s more or less using Everest and the action-adventure genre as a backdrop for my goofiness.”

One for the Road: Caribbean Journey from A to Y

I’m always on the lookout for creative travel titles geared to kids. Here’s one I came across that can serve as a niche geography lesson, with a review of the alphabet thrown in for good measure. All this and beautiful illustrations too: A Caribbean Journey from A to Y should peak young readers interest with this mysterious subtitle: Read and Discover What Happened to the Z.

Published by editorial Campana (publisher of literature by Latin Americans in both English and Spanish), this educational guide takes young folks on a journey that stretches from Aruba to Trinidad, introducing country names and fun facts about each place along the way. Read an excerpt from letters B and C to get an idea, and be sure to take note of Native American artist Earleen Griswold’s colorful illustrations, drawn during her years s a resident of the Virgin Islands.

One for the Road: Planet Earth

The BBC’s much-praised Planet Earth series was shown in the US on the Discovery Channel earlier this year. It was accompanied by the publication of a companion book, Planet Earth: As You’ve Never Seen It Before, which jumped up some notches on the New York Times bestseller list this week, partially due to an encore presentation of the show.

As another year of traveling comes to a close, the book offers wanderers an opportunity to sit back and truly look at the bigger picture: this astounding planet that we all move upon, and all the amazing creatures we share it with! Over 400 color illustrations create a “visual odyssey” of landscapes, packaged beautifully in 300-pages! The spectacular collection of photos takes readers along to remote and far ranging locations – mountains, forests, deserts and rivers, showcasing natural wonders and wildlife from around the world. Nomads from all walks of life will appreciate this hardbound tribute to our shared home.

One for the Road: Local Girl Makes History

Like yesterday’s selection, today’s book pick comes via a San Francisco book store. Local Girl Makes History: Exploring Northern California’s Kitsch Monuments is a unique title that grabbed my eye while browsing the City Lights website. The famous SF bookseller is also the publisher of this niche kitsch guide to Northern Cali’s special structures. Author Dana Frank is a Bay area historian who takes a series of local daytrips to places she has visited since her youth, uncovering secrets and exploring urban myths of popular spots like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s Cave Train Ride and the Puglas Water Temple.

The result is a smart and funny memoir mixed with historical research and reflections on politics and culture too. From the publisher:

Full of surprises and plot twists along the way, her adventures are quirky, fun and informative. The tension between private memory and public history draws us deeper and deeper into each investigation, and small places in California come to symbolize larger political questions in the United States.

Frank’s collection of essays is accompanied by photos, maps, and driving directions, producing a nice combo of memoir complete with practical guidebook details to boot! She’ll be appearing at City Lights in early January to talk about the book.