Travel and Food
September 01, 2011
Kansas City native Calvin Trillin can always be counted on to entertain readers with his twin enthusiasms: travel and food. In Travels with Alice, he recounts, in always droll and often hilarious essays, his journeys through Europe, accompanied by his wife and two children.
Included in the chapters are the results of an unofficial survey for the best of the American fast-food chains to be found in Paris and the intricacies of judging Italian gelato. He comments on the dependability of drivers in Sicily. "They can always be counted on to pass." Also included are several paragraphs dedicated to the complexities of a peculiar sport (?) enjoyed in the south of France called taureaux piscine: "If you and the bull are in the swimming pool at the same time, you win". Equally fascinating is its offshoot taureaux pasteque. "Each contestant is given a piece of watermelon (which) can be eaten only while the contestant is seated on a bench, the bench is in the bullring and so is the bull."
To say that Trillin looks for the offbeat is an understatement. One of his beliefs is that it is much better to spend your two or three weeks allotted to travel on the Continent strolling and munching your way through a few small, picturesque towns than to engage in frantic tours of the large, crowded cities. This preference forms the basis of a sort of tour guide of things you never knew you wanted to see and cultural highlights you never knew you wanted to experience until you read about them in this book! Nobody ever completed a Calvin Trillin work without an appetite for the foods he describes or without an appreciation of his smooth and engaging style.
Oak Grove Branch