Book Review: The World’s Best Spicy Food by Lonely Planet

World's Best Spicy Food - Lonely Planet
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A note to my readers: The world is still dealing with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, and it will be a long time before we can travel freely again. For many of us that will mean staycations and more local travel, but I will continue posting new content for you to read at home and to inspire your future travels. Happy reading and stay safe!

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Do you like to try different foods when you travel? Do you try to cook the new dishes you’ve discovered as soon as you get home? Or are you just a keen cook with a taste for spicy food? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then take a look at the new book from Lonely Planet, The World’s Best Spicy Food.

World's Best Spicy Food - Lonely Planet
The World’s Best Spicy Food, a new book from Lonely Planet

About The World’s Best Spicy Food

The World’s Best Spicy Food is a collection of recipes from around the world, characterised by their spicy ingredients. All the cuisines you would expect are here – lots of recipes from India, Thailand and Mexico. And there are some that you might not have expected – look out for English piccalilli and Italian ‘nduja (a hot, spreadable salami). There is a section on condiments at the back of the book; here you will learn how to make an authentic harissa or a tangy lime pickle. Each recipe comes with information about the dish, and tasting notes to whet your appetite.

Vegetarians might find the content rather “meaty”, and even confirmed meat eaters may need a strong stomach for recipes such as the offal-rich Mao Xue Wang. However the index shows 13 vegetarian recipes, including pasta all’arrabbiata and the Peruvian papas a la huancaína. And others, like the wonderfully named Five Alarm Texas Chilli, could be adapted to vegetarian ingredients.

Each recipe also includes snippets of history and tasting notes

How to Use This Book

Many readers will use The World’s Best Spicy Food as a recipe book, either as a voyage of discovery or as a way of recreating the food they enjoyed on holiday. The recipes are easy to follow, although some ingredients may require a trip to a specialist supermarket. Each recipe is helpfully marked with an indication of its spiciness (one chilli is mild, while three chillies is fierce!).

Tom Yam Soup
A tasty – and hot! – tom yam soup made from a recipe in the book

The book can also be used when planning your travels. It points you to some of the more authentic spicy dishes (including street food) that you are likely to encounter. And the tasting notes include suggestions as to where you might find the food, how to eat it, and even what to drink with it.

But it will also appeal to those who just like to read about food. The notes on the origins of food contain some interesting snippets. We are told that Singapore noodles are definitely “not from Singapore”, and that “the ancient Greeks skewered meats and cooked them over coals, apparently due to a shortage of firewood”. And the tasting notes conjure up the atmosphere of a place. Like the note on Caribbean goat curry: “partygoers, tired from dancing and rum-guzzling, grab paper plates piled with rice and curry to revive them as steel drums pound in the background”. You could almost imagine that you were there!

The World’s Best Spicy Food is available in paperback or ebook format.

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: The World’s Best Spicy Food by Lonely Planet”

  1. This sounds like a fantastic book. In the mid 1980s, I bought a cookbook called Hot & Spicy Cooking put together by local food critic Cynthia Wine. It featured spicy food from various cultures. The book is no longer in print and and my well-used copy is stained, dog-eared and missing its covers. It sounds as if The World’s Best Spicy Food is the same kind of book. I need to get a copy.

  2. I love reading about the origin and food. Many a cookbook has taken up space on my night table. Since my husband and I love spicy food, this looks like one I should add to the library.

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Karen Warren

WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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