Book Review – Gastro Obscura, A Food Adventures Guide

By Jan Jackson

Gastro Obscura, A Food Adventurer’s Guide, is a collection of forgotten histories and endangered traditions, obscure experiences, culinary ingenuity, and edible wonders.  When they claim it to be a noisy, delicious, action-packed feast that spans seven continents, and over 120 countries, believe them. You have no idea what fun stuff lies within. Just prepare yourself for your reading pleasure for a long, long time.*

Gastro Obscura, A Food Adventurer’s Guide, Cecily Wong and Dylan Thomas with additional writing by Rachel Rummel, Anne Ewbank and Sam O’Brien, 439 pages, copywrite 2021, published by Workman Publishing, New York.

The contents of this book are divided into Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, Canada, The United States, Latin America, and Antarctica. I started my reading journey by picking three of my favorite places.

  1. I love Ireland. Have been there many times. Did I know about Bog Butter? No, I did not. If I were I to go back, I would look at the bogs differently – wondering if there were things below the very place I stood that were also wrapped in animal skins or packed into a wooden or earthenware container? I’ve heard of other things being found in the bogs but butter? No, not butter.
  2. Pizza is not Norwegian so I would not have guessed that the Norwegians eat more pizza per capita than any nation on earth. Out of the 50 million pizzas consumed each year, 47 million of them are pulled from the freezer and baked at home. But wait, there’s more. They add more cheese before baking them and then drizzle with ketchup.
  3. I love eating Basque food when I visit family in Idaho, so I jumped over the Great Plains area in the United States. I got to read a short history of the Basque learned that they came to Idaho as shepherds in the late 1800s and now make up the largest concentrated population there outside of the border region between France and Spain.

There is no end to fun stuff. Read about cracking eggs or pantry alternatives to Tarot cards in Jamaica, Sourtoe Cocktails in the Yukon, or miracle berries in West Africa. It’s all there.

At Atlas Obscura, the guiding mantra is that wonder can be found around every corner.  They’ve managed to put that wonder between the covers of this book. I’ll be reading in it for a long long time. My advice is to buy for yourself and another one to give to a friend. Available at bookstores or at

  • The copy I reviewed was sent to me free of charge. The ones I bought for my friends, I had to pay for. Wish I had had it in my tour guiding days – fun stuff to know about the places/countries I visited.






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