Not many people would willingly admit to a 40-year spree of gluttony and guzzling, except for maybe at some form of an “Anonymous” meeting. However, that is exactly the focus of “25 Definitive New Orleans Restaurants (& A Dozen Damn Good Places to Drink).”
But don’t think the book, written by Steven Wells Hicks, focuses on a debaucherous lifestyle fueled by the seedier side of the Crescent City. The intro more than dispels that: “For 40 years, I’ve been chasing the essence of New Orleans through countless restaurants, road houses, bistros, beaneries and bars. … As the port city separating the great American breadbasket from the world at large, New Orleans has served as a culinary melting pot of ingredients, techniques and peoples for nearly 300 years.
“The result is a distinct, indigenous style of cooking that has grown not so much out of a collision, but rather a conglomeration of cultures and cooking methods from around the globe.”
“Written without reservations,” Hicks’ book instead turns a spotlight on the local, remote and quirky independent, family-owned restaurants and bars—no chain restaurants or establishments that could be found “in Anywhere U.S.A.,” he says—that have their own unique stories to tell, going well beyond the customary information provided in a conventional guidebook.
“Sometimes the real star of a place is its history,” says Hicks. “Sometimes it’s a recipe they invented, and sometimes it’s the pure vibe of the joint. I try to stay out of the story’s way and let it tell itself.”
I’ll admit that I fantasized about the post child-rearing era of my life, when my beloved significant other and I could ride, drive, fly, sail or whatever into the “self-employed sunset on the road,” anywhere we desired, and doing so by RV always seemed like a romantic foray into that dream. There are plenty of books on the market for the estimated more than 30 million Americans who enjoy the pleasure of RV travel—including a great many African-Americans, some of who are members of the National African American RV Association. However, “Snowbirds: How a Road Trip in a Vintage RV Put Love and Adventure Back in a Marriage” by author Jo Ann Bender adds a different perspective via their vintage 1973 Ford motorhome, which was so fraught with challenges that, at first glance, it seemed implausible that they’d actually make good on the book’s subtitle.
Yet they do, with as many entertaining and inspirational experiences as seemingly endless challenges that, in the end, Bender and her husband, Skipper, don’t seem like they’d change for the world. In her words, using the analogy of a cruise ship leaving port, “We’d met the challenges of keeping the vessel moving, we’d cut through uncharted waters, and we’d signaled other ships in the same waters … our voyage in our vintage RV had shown us miles and miles of the golden land—and it had reminded us of the many miles and miles of roads waiting here to be explored, the many diverse people waiting to be met, and varied foods and lifestyles waiting to be experienced.”
“Snowbirds” is available at www.amazon.com/Snowbirds-Road-Vintage-Adventure-Marriage-ebook/dp/B00OYWGN6A
“JEWISH NEW YORK”
When I travel, I’m always interested in delving into the diversity of every, as they say, “race, color and creed” that comprises the cultural landscape, both past and present. In New York City, a metropolis of more than 8 million people, whether a resident or visitor, one will find a rich, delicious amalgamation of peoples that infuse every nook and cranny with their own distinctive history, music, gastronomy, religious practices, family structures and so forth.
“Jewish New York: A History and Guide to Neighborhoods, Synagogues and Eateries” by Paul Kaplan has been described as an indispensable travel guide that combines historical perspective and an informative timeline of Jewish immigration with the customary “what to see, do and eat”-type itineraries of a guidebook.
Where the book excels is that for each historic place of Jewish interest in Lower Manhattan, the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, the East Village, Chelsea, Midtown, the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, Harlem and Morningside Heights and Washington Heights, Kaplan peppers it with unique insights and historical context that offer the reader much more of a personal “feel of the day” behind the various temples, museums, theaters, cemeteries, synagogues, archives and more that he explores. To learn more, go to www.paulkaplanauthor.com.
“ADVENTURES OF A LIFETIME”
“Adventure can mean so many things. For some, adventure is climbing the peaks of Tibet, sailing the open seas or cycling through Europe. For others, it means conquering a fear or pushing yourself to a whole new level. And for many, adventure means bravely stepping into the unknown of a new culture, language or setting. At its core, adventure travel means pushing yourself to experience something novel and worthwhile.”
That’s the introduction I received for “Adventures of a Lifetime: Travel Tales From Around the World.” Edited by award-winning travel journalist Janna Graber, the book is a collection of true, hair-raising, unexpected, hilarious and inspiring stories from 20 top international travel writers whose wanderlust has taken them literally to every corner of the globe.
From stepping foot in Antarctica among icebergs and penguins, to getting chased by monkeys in the forest of Indonesia, watching over your back for hippos on a Ugandan safari and playing a game of naked Frisbee with a tribe in New Guinea and everything in between, the reader is immersed in the true meaning of adventure travel, that is, says the author, “never really knowing what you will find—or what will find you.” To learn more, go to http://worldtravelerpress.com/dd-product/adventures-of-lifetime.
Lysa Allman Baldwin is a freelance writer and the publisher and editor of Amazing Escapades, offering “adventures for the mind, bod and belly” (www.amazingescapades.com).