Midummer Dreaming

June 26th, 2009

Vagabond Gourmand

The lure of the open road is so magnetic now:  back lanes and distant horizons spin into  summer’s dream destinations.  And as with all dreams – some are possible, even probable – while others must rest on the dreams shelf for later realization.  Maybe you also have a dreams shelf, where books bring to life far away places that one can only imagine exploring. When the travel itch bites and I know that a chair under the maple tree is as far as I can go,  I reach for one of the 500 Journeys series by National Geographic Books.  Journeys of a Lifetime was their first, and this summer I am lapping up all of the pages in the  “In Gourmet Heaven” chapter.  “A Wine Route through Hungary” takes me back to the Putza plains , “A Bedouin Feast” piques my curiosity about Jordan’s cardamom in coffee, and I even reread my own entry on  Sicilian Food and Wine. The destinations that the vagabondgourmand wrote number five in this book of dream journeys, and eleven for their next book, a stunning collection of Sacred Places of a Lifetime. Soon I will be curious to read what other travel writers reveal in the next up, Food Journeys – to be released in the autumn.

As cookbooks go, many in my collection serve to take me there….to northern Italy or Spain, the Greek Islands or southern Sweden. Thanks to a new title on my dreams shelf, I’ve been introduced to Swedish pastries, and the idea of rambling through Gothenburg’s historic old town grows more appealing. Vicarious travel begins with baking, steaming or stewing from the desired destination – a taste of what may lie ahead.  When I opened A Taste of Haga to Apple & Almond buns, Nougatine biscuits, a Victoria Torte covered with a delicate layer of marzipan, then Almond Horseshoes, the cobblestone streets and cozy cafés of the Haga quarter of Gothenburg became almost palpable.  My antenae are always up for almond details:  Haga’s bakeries come in loud and clear.  After a reality check on timing for the months ahead,  southern Sweden may be off my travel map, but in the meantime, there are recipes to sample…and one can always dream.

Dream shelf details:   Journeys of a Lifetime, 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips, published by National Geographic Books.  See site: www.nationalgeographic.com/books.  A Taste of Haga, by Eija Niskakari, was published in 2008 by Ic Bokförlag, Forma Publishing Group AB.

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