1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life List

1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life List

by Mimi Sheraton


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The ultimate gift for the food lover. In the same way that 1,000 Places to See Before You Die reinvented the travel book, 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die is a joyous, informative, dazzling, mouthwatering life list of the world’s best food. The long-awaited new book in the phenomenal 1,000 . . . Before You Die series, it’s the marriage of an irresistible subject with the perfect writer, Mimi Sheraton—award-winning cookbook author, grande dame of food journalism, and former restaurant critic for The New York Times.

1,000 Foods fully delivers on the promise of its title, selecting from the best cuisines around the world (French, Italian, Chinese, of course, but also Senegalese, Lebanese, Mongolian, Peruvian, and many more)—the tastes, ingredients, dishes, and restaurants that every reader should experience and dream about, whether it’s dinner at Chicago’s Alinea or the perfect empanada. In more than 1,000 pages and over 550 full-color photographs, it celebrates haute and snack, comforting and exotic, hyper-local and the universally enjoyed: a Tuscan plate of Fritto Misto. Saffron Buns for breakfast in downtown Stockholm. Bird’s Nest Soup. A frozen Milky Way. Black truffles from Le Périgord.

Mimi Sheraton is highly opinionated, and has a gift for supporting her recommendations with smart, sensuous descriptions—you can almost taste what she’s tasted. You’ll want to eat your way through the book (after searching first for what you have already tried, and comparing notes). Then, following the romance, the practical: where to taste the dish or find the ingredient, and where to go for the best recipes, websites included.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780761141686
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/13/2015
Pages: 1008
Sales rank: 230,097
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Mimi Sheraton is a journalist, restaurant critic, lecturer, IACP and James Beard Award–winning cookbook author, and the woman about whom famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten declared: “Her knowledge knows no bounds, her glossary of flavors is ultimate. Her opinion is like gold.” The former restaurant critic of The New York Times, she’s also written for The New YorkerVogueVanity Fair, Food & WineSmithsonian, and more. In April 2016, the Culinary Institute of America honored her as a Legend of New York Dining. Ms. Sheraton lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

The World on a Platter

Odd as it may seem, this book is my autobiography, or at least a very big part of it. During the six decades I have been writing about food, I have gone in search of the world’s most outstanding dishes, ingredients, restaurants, farms, shops, and markets, and met with more chefs, home cooks, and food craftsmen and producers than I can count. Along the way, I have reaped many rewards by way of life experiences, especially in foreign countries, where I have found food to be a ready introduction to other cultures.

 Traveling to gather material for articles or books, I met many strangers who, because we came together on the common ground of an interest in food, often became fast—and, in many cases, lasting—friends. Quests for various ingredients and dishes have taken me to corners of the world that I would not have ventured into otherwise, teaching me much about social customs and attitudes, local celebrations, spiritual and superstitious beliefs, and the richness of human ingenuity that enables so many to make so much out of so little.

All of which should not be surprising, considering that food and the concerns surrounding it are central to life, simple sustenance being an essential aspect of all of our days. Such were the thoughts that guided me in making the selections for this book. I strove for an overall collection that includes not only the pleasurable—though that was my primary purpose— but also the unusual (the uninitiated might even say outlandish and bizarre)—Hirn mit Ei (scrambled eggs with brains, see page 295), Liang Ban Hai Zhe (Sichuan cold jellyfish salad, see page 772), Testina (roasted lamb’s or calf’s head, see page 244), and more. The aim was to curate a sort of jigsaw puzzle that pieces together a picture of what the world eats.

My unshakeable interest in food undoubtedly traces back to my Brooklyn childhood, growing up in a family where passion for the subject was always paramount, if not obsessive. My mother was an outstanding, ambitious cook and hostess who tried recipes clipped from newspapers and who judged all other women by their ability to cook, especially their prowess at chicken soup. My father was in the wholesale fruit and produce business in New York’s bygone Washington Market, then located in the now fashionable neighborhood known as Tribeca.

When we gathered for dinner each evening, not only would we discuss the details of the food before us, but my father would describe the various fruits and vegetables he had handled that day and assess their relative merits. Thus I gathered early that California oranges were more flavorful than those from Florida, but the southern state was the winner when it came to grapefruit. He considered apples from the West Coast inferior (not enough cold nights) to those from New York and Massachusetts, and as for peaches, none held a candle to Georgia’s Elberta freestones.

Not surprisingly, those evaluations have stuck with me through the years, but the most important lesson I took away was to practice discernment. Ever since then, I have paid close attention to the qualities of whatever I am tasting and have compared one iteration with another. Wherever possible, I have tried to hold the choices in this book up to the same standards, allowing that much has changed for better and worse over the years in the name of progress.

Coupled with my interest in food was my incurable wanderlust, the seeds of which I believe were first planted in me as I read a poem fittingly titled “Travel” by Robert Louis Stevenson in A Child’s Garden of Verses. The opening lines tempt me even today: “I should like to rise and go / Where the golden apples grow.” I have been rising and going in search of golden apples for many years, and, in the pursuit of food knowledge, have now visited nearly everywhere that I originally longed to see. Indeed, a savvy editor I worked for once accused me of being a person who appears to be doing one thing, but who is really doing something else. He sure had my number, as the food articles I proposed were invariably inspired by the places I wanted to see. (Want to visit southern Spain? Why not suggest an article on the growing, harvesting, and curing of capers? It worked for me and might for you.) That is one reason this book is organized geographically by cuisine, rather than by type of food. It is almost impossible for me to understand an ingredient or a dish without knowing its original context, much of which I tried to impart with each entry.

My problem was not arriving at a thousand entries but whittling down the final tally from twice that number. Almost every single one of the chosen thousand has a special meaning for me, due to my outsize and enduring love for it, fond memories of the circumstances under which it was first experienced, or the ways in which it has permanently influenced my taste.

Many of my thoughts and longings for individual foods and meals have been inspired by oblique or direct references in cultural works, including books, films, and paintings. Fiction such as Jorge Amado’s Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon and nonfiction such as Eleanor Clark’s Oysters of Locmariaquer; films that are all about food, such as La Grande Bouffe, and others in which food is just a detail, as in The Bicycle Thief; and so many still-life paintings— all these have started me dreaming of the feasts those works planted so firmly in my mind. Still, my reach has always exceeded my grasp, and I know more tastes and textures are in store for me.

The world of food has never been as exciting as it is now, as I hope the choices for this book indicate. Mass travel and mass communication have hastened fusion, something as old as mankind but never before occurring so rapidly and on so vast a scale. That acceleration sometimes created difficulties in determining which cuisine to categorize a dish in—for example, is chakchouka Tunisian or Israeli? But people have been wandering far from home ever since they could walk, and along with military conquests and the resultant colonialism, changing methods and equipment, and simply a hunger for variety, natural fusions were fostered long before intellectual chefs began consciously doing the same. I did my best to properly classify them all here. So bon voyage and, especially, bon appétit. May your senses and stomach be strong and your pleasures great.

Table of Contents

The World on a Platter

British and Irish:
English, Welsh, Scottish


Belgian and Dutch


Spanish and Portuguese

German, Austrian, and Swiss

Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Eastern European:
Balkan, Bulgarian, Georgian, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian


Greek, Turkish, and Middle Eastern:
Afghani, Armenian, Iranian, Israeli, Lebanese, Yemeni

American and Canadian

Mexican and Latin American:
Argentine, Brazilian, Colombian, Cuban, Peruvian

Haitian, Jamaican

North African:
Egyptian, Moroccan, Tunisian
West African:
Nigerian, Senegalese
East and Southern African:
Ethiopian, Kenyan, Mozambican, South African


Japanese and Korean

Thai and Southeast Asian:
Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Vietnamese


Australian, New Zealand, Tahitian

915 Recipes, Featured Restaurants, World-Class Markets, Holiday Foods, Cultural Feasts, Foods of the World, General Index

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1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life List 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
billmarsano More than 1 year ago
By Bill Marsano. Bucket-list books and movies have been around for a while, and now at last we have one devoted to food. Happily, this is not by someone of the market-oriented variety, such as Rachael Ray with her TV shows (four of them), line of kitchenware, product endorsements and magazine, but by someone devoted to and deeply informed about food as something to eat rather than profit from. And so here we have Mimi Sheraton, whose 60-year career includes a James Beard journalism award; eight years as the first female restaurant critic of the New York Times; articles in the likes of Time, Condé Nast Traveler and the Wall Street Journal, and lecturing at Cornell University and the Culinary Institute of America. An ordinary “100 Foods” book could easily stop at America, Italy and France; Ms. Sheraton certainly visits their culinary cultures but goes much farther afield, to Africa, Scandinavia, the Far East, Eastern Europe, Iberia, the U.K. and Ireland, Australia, India and many more, including the cuisine of the Jewish diaspora. Recipes? No, you don’t get recipes here you get brief, rewarding essays about specific food and dishes—their origins, histories and traditions. And so herein you’ll come across France’s Jambon de Canard; Hungary’s Pogàsca biscuits; Bread Fried in Bacon Grease (Ireland’s “surprising literary snack”); Veal Parmigiana (Sheraton is no snob about Italian-American food); Russia’s Kvass (hard cider readily made at home); Finland’s Hirvent Sarvet, or Stag Antler cookies; the Danish boiled cod called Kokt Torsk; Tunisia’s Maraquat al-Safarjal, a quince-and-lamb ragout; England’s Gentleman’s Relish; and many, many more, up to the promised thousand, often with information about where to buy them or restaurants to eat them in. You get the picture, so get the book. While you’re at it, look into her other books listed by Amazon. My favorite is her autobiographical “Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life,” which contains a delightful romantic breakup scene on a railway platform and the necessary instructions for koshering a chicken while crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Bill Marsano writes about wine and spirits at pouredwithpleasure.com and is an occasionally successful home cook, although his scratch-made pizzas still come out shaped mostly like Australia.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With 1,000 different foods that are from around the world, I am looking forward to traveling the world using my taste buds. I find it so amazing that the author was able to compile such a complete and very satisfying list. This book has given me something to aim for.