Culinary pros cook up a guide for foodies

Judy Hevrdejs / Chicago Tribune /

Published Mar 24, 2013 at 05:00AM

Lonely Planet’s “Food Lover’s Guide to the World” ($39.99) is not the sort of book one tosses in a carry-on or backpack along with a toothbrush and passport. It measures roughly 9 by 11 inches and weighs more than 3 pounds.

Yet it’s a must-have for anyone who pesters locals for restaurant ideas, pokes around food markets or buys dumpling ladles as souvenirs. A terrific resource before you travel, it also has enough recipes — from Spain’s simple egg-potato tortilla to India’s complex Hyderabadi biryani and Denmark’s sweet flodeboller — to keep cooks happy.

Its food credentials are golden: James Oseland (Saveur mag’s editor-in-chief) and Mark Bittman (New York Times columnist and cookbook author) were involved, as were chefs Fergus Henderson, Eric Ripert and Atul Kochhar. Also in the mix: Lonely Planet’s “food-passionate travel writers,” said Ben Handicott, the book’s publisher.

“The book presents food as travel experiences and is for anyone who loves either traveling or great food experiences,” Handicott emailed.

Cooking classes. Food or wine tours. Sections dubbed “Learnings” suggest truffle hunts in France and Sweden, trips to a souk before cooking lunch in Morocco and more. Bite-Size Diversions offer food-related insights, from explaining noriwrapped rice packets (onigiri) found in Japanese convenience stores and Turkish ice cream (dondurma).

Among the best parts are pages devoted to topics such as cheese, breakfast and coffee that take an understanding of the subject beyond a Facebook photo and “it tastes good.” The cheese section, for example, explains why France’s Muenster is related to England’s Stinking Bishop and Italy’s taleggio.