Ensiform's Reviews > The Year of Eating Dangerously: A Global Adventure in Search of Culinary Extremes

The Year of Eating Dangerously by Tom Parker Bowles
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Apr 24, 2012

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bookshelves: non-fiction, food
Read in April, 2009

Bowles, a well-to-do public schoolboy, self-taught foodie and stepson of Prince Charles, decides to travel the world in search of, if not truly dangerous, exotic fare that often makes Westerners uncomfortable. In order, he visits Gloucestershire (hunting for elvers, a shady and risky trade); New Mexico (the hottest chilies); China (whole duck and organs, fermented tofu); Nashville (judging a barbecue championship); Tokyo (the infamous deadly fugu); Korea (dog stew); Laos (various bits and pieces); Spain (extreme fishing with the phallic barnacles called percebeiros); and Sicily (dinner, ostensibly, with the mob).

Parker Bowles is a genial writer who is terrific at describing both the places and the foods he visits, tossing in history and scenery between the rich descriptions of scary-looking dishes. His adventures in New Mexico, Gloucestershire, and Tokyo are recounted with wit and style. A big problem with much of the book, however, is that Parker Bowles seems to have no self control. In Nashville, despite many warnings from wiser heads, he immediately utterly gorges himself so that he can't do justice to the second half of the event. This happens elsewhere as well. He continually gets himself so drunk on the evening before an appointment that he can't appreciate what he's doing or eating the next day because of his raging hangover. Maybe he thinks he’s clever, or pulling a gonzo Hunter Thompson-style piece, but I didn’t read this to hear how some fat idiot ate too much so he couldn’t appreciate the food. With decent editing, this book could have been very entertaining, but its success is tempered with the author’s lack of good sense.
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