Had this book for awhile and decided to continue on my food theme to get rid of my to-read piles. The book is what it says in the title: recipes from around the world and the stories behind them. From pho to jerk chicken to gomen stew, etc. the author looks at foods around the world, gives us sample recipes and talks a bit about the specific regional specialties, quirks and sometimes why a food is special to her.
It sounds like a fun, thoughtful idea but the book is awfully boring. Her writing isn't particularly engaging, there are no pictures of the recipes (which didn't bother me but I'm sure it would be a concern for others), and her breakdown is well, bizarre. France, Spain and Italy get specific regional breakdowns while India is divided into North and South India, the US is represented by California and Louisiana (??? as someone who can really only speak on US cuisine this was far too few and narrow of a selection) and many countries like Brazil, Ethiopia, Korea, etc. don't get any region-specific cuisines either.
Yet we get countries lumped together with sections for "West Africa" and "Eastern Europe". I fully realize that many foods can carry over across borders but I just wasn't sure exactly how or why she chose to organize her book the way it was. I suspect it has to do with her familiarity (she lives in London and works for the 'Guardian' newspaper according to the flap) with the country/region but that was odd.
That's about it. It might be a fun book but I think it might have been better if the author had made it more of a memoir of her own personal experiences rather than trying to be general and cover everywhere. She shares some nice memories like how her grandfather used to travel to Thailand and the food she associated with visits. Those bits and pieces were nice but they were also rare (she spent time studying abroad in California, for example, but I really don't know about the recipes she chose).
It was a bargain buy but as you can probably tell I wasn't enthusiastic about it. It might be fun if you really like exploring cultures and countries via food but I'd be skeptical. There are other books that do this better so I'd recommend the library if you're really that curious.