Have Food Will Travel

Non-Fiction - Cooking/Food
265 Pages
Reviewed on 09/17/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

A mother and son tandem with a mutual gustatory delight set out to explore a profound travelogue of recipes spun from the thread of wanderlust and close family ties. Johanna and Craig Harlen offer a take on an international food adventure with Have Food Will Travel. Johanna Harlen focuses on a biographical approach that traces the roots of her wanderlust and culinary skills through a chosen selection of recipes. However, these recipes function like succulent visual chapters in the life of Johanna, as they originate from countries where she left her footprints. Her son and co-author, Craig, a photographer and pastry chef in his own right, provides the hunger-inducing photographs. From South Africa to North America, every food in this artistic cookbook reflects the diversity and the episodes of a mother and son traveling together.

Throughout this book, Johanna Harlen’s writing is up-close and personal, as if she is talking to her reader over a cup of coffee. This is effective in conveying an atmosphere for a book that appeals to our gastronomic senses. She delivers her personal story with meticulous attention to detail, but saying only what she feels is necessary. The recipes, along with their arresting photographs, tell a considerable portion about her globetrotting. The selection of food in Have Food Will Travel is appealing not only in taste but also in preparation. Whether you aspire to be a chef or a home-based cook, there is something to appreciate in this selection of international recipes. Every dish is a travel adventure without leaving home. Your taste buds will transport you to foreign locales.

Liz Konkel

Have Food Will Travel by Johanna and Craig Harlen is a collection of recipes taken from around the world and discovered during their travels which are shared throughout the cookbook. Each section is divided by location and includes appetizers, savory dishes and delectable desserts that you can make at home. Enjoy green papaya salad from Seychelles, fire-grilled tenderloin from South Africa, and other delicious dishes that are easy to make with ingredients and preparations clearly laid out in easy instructions for you to follow.

Johanna Harlen shares her adventures with stories of her various trips that feature moments with her family and their experiences with the various foods they’ve tried, with each place bringing to life a different memory. Each of the stories focuses on the specific foods she encountered which set up a visual behind the recipes that follow. Each place is viewed through Harlen’s eyes and her experiences, ranging from warnings about the dangers of Bourbon Street to embracing bungee jumping at the Victoria Falls. The cookbook is organized by type of meal and location which allows you to immerse yourself in another place by bringing it into your own kitchen. The recipes are paired with photos that give a stunning visual of the mouth-watering food that will make you eager to try them out. Harlen also incorporates a few shots of the places with beautiful horizons and some of the animals that Harlen encountered, which include a friendly cheetah. The photos add to the personal feeling of the cookbook which clearly comes straight from the heart.

These recipes focus on how the various cultures have impacted foods all around the world with a wide range of food types from watermelon shave ice from Hawaii to the octopi dishes in Spain. Harlen’s travels go all around the world with food from South Africa, the Caribbean, Aruba, Israel, Spain, Canada, and places in the United States. Have Food Will Travel is the perfect cookbook for those looking to explore new foods in their own kitchens and want to open their world up to different cultures through amazing food.

Edith Wairimu

Johanna and Craig Harlen’s Have Food Will Travel offers recipes from a wide range of cultures and countries including Canada, Bahamas, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, USA, and Mexico among others. The recipes give instructions for exquisite meals and food that brings warmth and comfort. The recipes follow the destinations visited, giving us a glimpse of the people’s culture together with their cuisine. Incorporated also are Johanna’s personal experiences including those with family and friends. She opens up about times she felt vulnerable and worried, and other times when life brought happy moments with memories to be cherished while some experiences include danger and fear. In each adventure, food played a significant role as she lived in different parts of the world.

Regardless of one’s background, there is a recipe for everyone in Have Food Will Travel by Johanna and Craig Harlen. The cookbook also offers the opportunity to learn about other cultures and their food. The recipes are well detailed with beautiful photographs that are aesthetic, and which show the final outcome of the dish. The personal experiences shared in the book help create a link with readers and the work. Each adventure is either characterized by beautiful nostalgic moments, suspenseful times or learning points about the way of life in other countries. Have Food Will Travel contains more than recipes for amazing food. It is informative in many ways, emotive and also fascinating. The work is an invitation to travel across the world, taking in the scenes and enjoying the food.

K.C. Finn

Have Food Will Travel is a combination of recipes and travel writing created by recipe writer Johanna Harlen and chef and photographer Craig Harlen. This mother and son duo bring cooking to life with exciting travels around the world, as the volume takes us visually and textually to more than twenty locations worldwide. In each location, we find a description of the typical styles of cooking and dining, recipes from those regions, gorgeous full-color photographs and many delightful tales of travels and experiences that were had there. There are also helpful inclusions such as conversion charts for measurements, and personal touches by the authors throughout.

Creative team Johanna and Craig Harlen have launched headfirst into a visual feast of a book that appeals at once because of its high-quality photographic content. Beyond this explosion of color, flavor, and temptation, even more hidden gems lie as you begin to explore the travel stories and get a flavour for each culture which is featured in the volume. The contents are set out nicely to explore whichever corner of the world you choose, and the recipes contain some really delicious-looking flavor combinations. I was particularly excited to see so many African recipes as that’s such an underrated and delicious cuisine of the world, which was certainly done full justice here. Overall, Have Food Will Travel not only provides delectable recipes for budding chefs to try but gives you the authentic context of the places where those foods originate. An excellent book all around.

Kimberlee J Benart

If you dream of world travel and sampling some of the traditional foods encountered along the way, Have Food Will Travel (2nd Ed) by Johanna and Craig Harlen is for you. In this collection of favorite (though not all original) recipes, stunning color photographs of completed dishes, and vignettes of adventures along the way, Johanna Harlen takes the reader to destinations in Africa, the Caribbean, Canada, Israel, Spain, Mexico, and the United States. The characteristics of the cuisine of each region are summarized in a section titled “About the Food,” and a metric conversion chart is included. Inspired by her personal desire to see the world outside her native South Africa, Harlen follows the chronology of places she and her family have lived in or visited since 1998, some of which were exotic island locations, and devises a three-course meal or a collection of dishes for each.

In Have Food Will Travel, Johanna and Craig Harlen provide a treat for foodies and sufferers of wanderlust alike. More than that, Johanna Harlen invites the reader to share her family’s story. “How do you put twenty years into a few book pages? It is impossible,” she writes, “but the food tells a story. It is our story. A very small part of our story, but it is our story.” The recipes vary from the simple to the more complex so that even a beginner cook has plenty to try. While they reflect the varied cuisines of their countries of origin, there is an utterly wonderful emphasis on flavor and freshness. All come with detailed instructions and the photographs leave your mouth watering.

Having traveled to some of the same destinations, I really enjoyed reading the stories Harlen includes in Have Food, Will Travel. My favorite involves devising a way to get hot water for bathing which doesn’t involve traditional plumbing. “This scenario makes me appreciate the simplicity of a hot shower and a bathtub every time I get into one,” Harlen writes. “Sometimes, tough times can teach you to turn a negative situation into something positive and to be grateful for what you have.” Having once gone a year and a half without a hot shower myself, I heartily second that emotion. A wonderful book that incorporates delicious regional cuisine, travel adventure, and a philosophy about experiencing what the world has to offer which can resonate with any reader.