The 2017 Piglet

A Peek Inside the Ultimate Armchair Travel Cookbook

March 15, 2017

When we tasked you with picking out your favorite cookbooks of last year (and 1,100 of you did, by voting for the year's Piglet Community Picks cookbooks), you chose a comic book, a based-on-TV cookbook, and a coffee table book that also has recipes. So maybe it qualifies as a cookbook?

Whatever it is, Far Afield: Rare Food Encounters from Around the World by Shane Mitchell and photographer James Fisher, which documents some of the oldest living cooking traditions from around the world, received your rave reviews.

Here's a peek inside the beautiful, heartfelt book, as well as what some of our community cookbook reviewers loved about it:

Photo by Julia Gartland

If it's not a cookbook, what is it?

It's not that you didn't consider it a cookbook—it's just also so much more than that, with its stunning portraits, narratives, and recipes.

"Far Afield is a multi-sensory joy ride through parts of nine countries."

"It's a blend of travelogue, memoir, and cookbook—equal parts anthropology and cuisine. There's not anything else like it."

"Inspiring and beautiful travel journal highlighting people who live in mostly isolated communities, where procuring and preparing food is a daily chore and sharing food is a ritual of celebration and hospitality."

"A beautiful, mysterious, fascinating work!"

Photo by Julia Gartland

Where does it excel?

Our community cookbook reviewers felt like every part of the book was strong, and worked so harmoniously because of the warm and curiosity the author brought to the subject: the stewards of traditional foodways.

"The authors' intrepidness and insatiable hunger make Far Afield feel like a warm and welcome invitation to a fascinating potluck dinner party—with a Maasai warrior, a Shinto priest, and an Icelandic shepherd all seated at your table."

"What makes this book special is the beauty of its words and its ability to take you into each faraway land, tasting the food through the tip of your tongue as it mouths the descriptions of distant cultures and their dishes."

It captures the spirit of food as an instrument of fellowship.

"This is such a gem of a book—visually striking, culturally rich, it connects its readers to both the traditions and the tastes documented by the writer and the photographer in a wholly unique and compelling way."

Photo by Julia Gartland

There are recipes! What are they doing there? How are they?

Generally, our reviewers didn't have smashing success with the recipes, but that was okay with them.

"I don't know that I'll cook from this book often (made a number of dishes including the bhindi masala, chicken in sauce, coconut rice, and raw mango chutney), but I treasure the photographs and stories. It is a beautiful coffee table book and would make a great gift for anyone who is full of wanderlust and loves the intersection of food, place, culture, and story."

"This is truly a special book, introducing the reader to people, communities, and rituals that are out of the realm of most of our travel experiences. The book places the reader in remote areas of India, fishing in Kenya, herding sheep in Iceland, harvesting potatoes in Peru, and sharing the bounty of these places and more. People feed themselves, share food, and celebrate all over the world. The common denominator is love. The photos are transporting, every one of them a work of art unto itself. And the recipes give us something to dig our hands into, a way to share a bit of the experience of other people's lives. We may not have spent the day fishing the arctic circle, but, like the cook who makes a chowder that varies from day to day based on what the boats bring home, we can still make a chowder with the freshest fish we can find."

2017's roster of Piglet Community Picks were chosen by an open call to our community; the reviews you see here are from some of the folks who voted these books into the tournament. To see other Piglet Community Picks reviews, head here.

Signed copies of Far Afield are available in the Food52 Shop.

Tell us: Where do you want to travel (or armchair travel)?


The Piglet—inspired by The Morning News' Tournament of Books—is where the 16 most notable cookbooks of the year face off in a NCAA-style bracketed tournament. Watch the action and weigh in on the results!


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.