Far Afield: A Photojournalistic Hybrid Cookbook Review

A photojournalistic book with a culinary twist, Far Afield is a rare compilation of forty culturally rich recipes hailing from nine countries across five continents. While this is labeled as a cookbook, I believe it to be more appropriate to be called a traveling lifestyle book rather than what it is claimed. The recipes are there but if you’re expecting a full color step by step direction and depiction of what the finished product is supposed to look like, which most of us probably won’t even know unless we’ve had it before or we looked it up, this book is lacking in culinary depictions.

There are a few pictures of food and most of the recipes definitely necessitated it, but what it lacks is compensated with the vivid and breathtaking high definition images of people whose farming, livelihood and way of life are being showcased.

Comprised of ten chapters, each chapter covers a country (India, Japan, Kenya, France-which the author highlights the lives of Refugees in Calais with thought-provoking images of a slum-like settlement, Iceland, Peru, Uruguay, Mexico and Hawaii (USA) except for Kenya which has two dedicated chapters. Beside the pictures and recipes, the written component on each chapter are the people’s narratives. It is quite informative especially for those wanting to learn the cultures specific to the 9 countries mentioned.

What I personally find fascinating is that India is one country where men’s masculinity is not challenged by wearing pink (from hot pink to fuchsia) in the form of a turban, distinctive to that of a Rabari tribesman in NW India. I rarely see men in the West wear this hue except for the traditional priestly vestments worn by those in the Vatican. Another interesting thing that makes me ponder when it comes to traditional Indian tribal garb are the women wearing floor length skirts but with their midriffs exposed. I know it’s how they dress culturally but if the length of the skirt is supposed to signify modesty, doesn’t the bare midriff defeat the purpose?

The book’s hardcover is solid slate gray with a photographic dust jacket. It has smyth sewn binding for durability and bears the structure and hefty weight reminiscent of an Atlas book with thick glossy pages. Definitely a unique format of documenting one’s travels and interactions with people from different places and all walks of life. This book would be appealing to an aspiring photojournalist, photographer, foodie with a palate for exotic cuisine and anyone who has wanderlust.

[This is my unadulterated review for a complimentary copy of the aforementioned book which I received from Blogging for Books ]

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