When Simon Majumdar found himself in the throes of a midlife crisis, he didn’t surrender himself to trite clichés—no sports car or twentysomething girlfriend for him. Instead, the fanatical foodie quit his job and embarked on an expedition designed around one tasty mission: “Go everywhere, eat everything.”
The results of this 12-month, 30-nation gastronomic escapade are delectably chronicled in Eat My Globe: One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything (Free Press, $26), out May 19. Half Welsh and half Bengali, Majumdar grew up in a household where diverse flavors were the norm and food reigned supreme. “To say that our family was obsessed with what we ate would be like saying J.K. Rowling is comfortably well off,” he writes. “Food was not just fuel to keep the plump bodies of the Majumdar clan going. It was the very essence of who we were.”
Majumdar describes his epicurean exploits with a poetic grace usually reserved for sonnets composed by impassioned lovers. “If God ever came back in pork form, this would be it,” he declares of a bowl of pork belly in Japan. Nothing is off-limits for the gluttonous globetrotter, and his adventures see him sampling rotten shark meat in Iceland; barbecue in South Africa and the US; deep-fried crickets in the Philippines; fermented mare’s milk in Mongolia; calf’s-spleen sandwiches in Italy; and juicy steaks in Argentina. Not to mention every possible permutation of pork: knuckle, nose, foot, butt. If you are what you eat, I dread to think what that makes Majumdar.
Flavored with seasoned wit and spicy insights, Eat My Globe is a true treat, though I’ll admit that his prandial excesses (stir-fried rat???) did make me nauseous on more than one occasion. It’s a miracle that he didn’t spend more time during his journey bent over a porcelain bowl—delicacies like cod-sperm sushi have the ability to render even the most ironclad stomach feeble. The average person would need a lifetime to recover from Majumdar’s overindulgences. But our peripatetic gourmet is a true trooper and so he soldiers on with his lofty undertaking, savoring sights, sounds, smells, and of course, tastes, that most of us may never experience. He makes countless new friends and memories along the way, returning from his sybaritic quest happy and invigorated.
I wonder if you could say the same for his arteries.
Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure.