When I read the description of this book, Eating with Peter, a Gastronomic Journey by Susan Buckley, I knew that I wanted to read it. After all, it was about a woman who had married a man considerably older than she, who took her out of her comfort zone to travel abroad, and experience new sights, sounds, and foods. I found this totally relatable, because that’s exactly what happened to me. When I started reading the book, however, I found that I couldn’t relate at all. Obviously Susan and Peter Buckley had one heck of a lot more money and free time than did my late husband, Jim, and me. Our travels were largely academic; we spent a lot of time in libraries, and never once did I have the opportunity to ride a camel, or in the back of an open Jeep driven by a three-star French chef, alas. Here’s what I mean, after they married, their honeymoon consisted of a month in the Caribbean, some days in London, three weeks in France, and another three in Morocco. Sigh.
Peter Benchley was among the privileged. He knew famous people (Ernest Hemingway and his wife to name two), was an award-winning photographer, journalist, and world traveler. Together, he and wife, Susan, toured France, Spain, and Morocco, dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, visiting remarkable food and farmers' markets, chatting up local food artisans, cheese-mongers, and the like along the way. While Peter, the consummate foodie, created his own amazing recipes from ingredients that he found locally. These adventures are shared in great, often exquisite, detail by Susan, and are accompanied by the charming illustrations of Dana Catharine.
Many interesting and exotic recipes, twenty eight to be exact, are included in this unique and colorful travelogue. Most of the recipes can be easily made at home — a handful contain a few exotic ingredients (some of which I had never heard), but that is the exception rather than the norm. An index to these recipes would have been helpful; I had a devil of a time trying to find one that interested me early on. Those who enjoy travel and food, will probably find this book as fascinating as I did. Still, I didn’t feel the warmth and kinship that I had hoped to feel while reading it. Can I recommend it? Sure, but go into it with your eyes open, knowing that chances are you will never go on any of the adventures that they did, and, like me, this may cause you a bit of disappointment.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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