Gastro Obscura: Food Curiosities From Around the World

Gastro Obscura book

After that excellent Atlas Obscura book from 2016, this time we have Gastro Obscura’s take on the many curiosities with food around the world.

And guess what? In this 400+ tome to global foodstuffs, Bovril turns up on page three. Now that’s what we’re talking about.

So, let’s celebrate what is an astonishing bit of research to cobble together the joys of weirdo foodstuffs from around the world.

The Gastro Obscura Book

Okay, so it’s fantastic the Atlas Obscura team got round to doing this. They run one of our favourite websites out there.

And this shift to food… well, it immediately brought us to yeast extract. Sure, not Marmite. But Bovril is a close enough thing.

Bovril avoids that sinking feeling

Prevent that sinking feeling! Ingest Bovril! We think a finer message can’t be found online.

But away from the British chapter (which we’ve already been documenting in our British food histories feature), you can find global excellence beyond reason.

As with the Atlas Obscura book (an insight into unusual travel destinations worldwide), the Gastro take is to find the strangest and most beautiful food examples.

Such as with the tradition in southwestern Shanghai to ignore water with sulfuric flames, sending sardines dancing from the water as they rush to see the fire.

Gastro Obscura sardines on fire image

And why this interest? As we’ve tried to highlight, local food preferences are rather fascinating.

Whether you’re in Barbados, New Zealand, Russia, Lancashire (see the Wigan kebab), or that restaurant in America that served Elvis during one of his gluttonous frenzies (see the bacon butty).

So, at its roots, Gasto Obscura is a book celebrating diversity.

Atlas Obscura does this on a daily basis and has covered food-based issues directly over the years. To the extent it was worthwhile piecing together a meticulous work covering countries, cities, towns, continents, and local shops.

For instance, there’s a loving segregated column dedicated to the creator of the Hawaiian pizza. That notorious thing with pineapple and ham on it.

However, and sadly, there’s no mention of the Pot Noodle sandwich. For shame!

But the pineapple on pizza inventor Sam Panopoulos died aged 82 on 2017. And he was 82, not 83 like the video claims.

His creation is often listed in the top 10 most influential pizzas. And it’ll continue to trigger heated debates until the end of time.

Whereas other chefs will use active volcanoes to cook their pizza produce. Which is an environmentally-friendly method. There’s always that. Congratulations to him.

Right then, Gastro Obscura. Only a step away from being Gastrointestinal Obscura, but we wouldn’t argue about that title either.

We could go on about this all, we really could. But we suggest you just buy the book.

Dip in and out of it, as it’s that type of thing. Like A Little History of the World—you learn, you want to discover more, and you do so.

And in its entirety it’s a highly impressive and engaging piece of foodstuff we’ll be revisiting for many years to come.

Just don’t try to eat the book. Not even with gravy. We tried and it’s really not nice.

Dispense with some gibberish!

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