There is so much more to travel than selfies and sightseeing. This is something that travel media powerhouse Lonely Planet, publisher of the original and still best-known travel guides, knows all too well.
In recent years, Lonely Planet has made concerted efforts to change the mood for international travel. Spokesman Chris Zeiher told SBS that travel gurus want less to “take a selfie in an interesting place” and more to deliberately slow down and connect with different cultures.
His latest offering on the theme of food, The best food bowl in the world released this month, is a cross-cultural celebration of simple and nourishing foods served in bowls. This caused a mild case of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon in me because, until a recent stint I did in LA, I admit having no idea that bowl food was a real “thing.”
Of course, like most Australians who eat out from time to time, I know the macro bowl. This ubiquitous, self-aware healthy dish filled with grains, steamed veggies, and tofu pops up on many menus, its presence seemingly designed to appease vegans and nut health all at once.
Macro bowls, Buddha bowls, burrito bowls, poke bowls, curry bowls, soul bowlsâ¦ Everything, it seems, can be served in a stand-alone bowl with no frills, often with just a spoon or fork.
But a few months abroad revealed that “the bowl” now commands its own section on the menus of almost every dining establishment in LA, from salad bars to high-end vegan restaurants. Macro bowls, Buddha bowls, burrito bowls, poke bowls, curry bowls, soul bowlsâ¦ Everything, it seems, can be served in a stand-alone bowl with no frills, often with just a spoon or fork.
Given this rise in popularity and Lonely Planet’s reputation as the pulse of international travel, it’s no surprise to see the globetrotter’s bible capture this moment in the culinary zeitgeist. With 100 one-pot recipes from around the world, The best food bowl in the world features Lonely Planet’s signature impressive photography, as well as a brief history of each dish. The flavor notes are added for good measure.
So why the current obsession with eating from a bowl, and is it really a new fad given that bowl-shaped dishes aren’t exactly a new invention? Lonely Planet traces the trend to New York City and the “bowl of power,” which is essentially a bigger, more filling version of a healthy salad aimed at “time-poor and wellness-obsessed New Yorkers.” Naturally, they “embraced the healthy qualities of the Power Bowl and inspired a movement on social media.”
But in literally interpreting the concept of a bowl of food – each chapter includes breakfast, salad, soup, pasta, stews or desserts – Lonely Planet recognizes that throwing a diverse range of foods into a bowl is something. something that humans have been doing for centuries.
The book includes staples from around the world, with a few recipes following the one-T tradition, like Spanish gazpacho (time to dust off your mortar and pestle!). Others, like the cauliflower salad with Persian spices and bulgur, offered by one of the best chefs in London, are more a tribute to cultural origins.
Food bowls may be a fad among all of the hashtags, but Lonely Planet insists that often, “fads reveal a deeper truth, and this trend toward one-pot dishes reveals common ingredients and themes. of the whole world. These are meals that speak the international language of comfort â.
Many cultures, for example, serve variations of chicken soup to sick people. Whether this has to do with common cultural traditions or colonialism is debatable (one of the few pieces of information I managed to take away from my first year cultural anthropology course was how Christian missionaries have distributed chicken soup to distant tribes as a remedy for the cold with almost as much zeal as they spread Bible stories).
Overall, despite the emphasis on ease and speed, food bowls aren’t all that different from the slow-cooking trend in that they are made up of “foods that go to the heart of your life.” ‘a kitchen and recall home, or childhood, or tradition’.
In a world that seems to want to get more and more complicated, this movement towards comfort and simplicity will only increase in popularity, and it is indeed heartwarming to see that there are still some who are dedicated to overcoming our differences. to find the things that unite us. .
Salad image from The World’s Best Bowl Food (Andrew Riverside / Shutterstock).