Back in the ’70s when my taste buds were achieving full adult status, Mimi Sheraton was the food critic for the New York Times. I read her then and I’m reading her now.

1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die is not just about food origins, mythical  or otherwise (“Bouillabaise was invented by Venus to put her husband Vulcan to sleep when she had a rendezvous with Mars”); nor is it only about little known recipes such as Aspargessuppe (a Danish asparagus soup with veal dumplings); nor merely a mail order guide for such ingredients as tamarind paste,Beluga caviar, or Toll House cookies. It’s all this and more. As the sub-title suggests, it’s A Food Lover’s Life List. And it’s a life well fed.

Whether you end up booking a table at Abe and Louie’s in Boston for  America’s best Lobster Savannah, head to the kitchen to make Mimi’s Easy Lemon Meringue Pie, or simply sit in your favorite chair and explore the world’s culinary pleasures and oddities, this book is an interesting and valuable read.

When my copy arrived a few days ago,  I (not surprisingly) went straight to the Italian section.  Here’s Ms Sheraton’s opening line for Mostarda di Cremona (which causes my mouth to water just by typing the name):  “If gemstones were edible, they might well taste like the rainbow preserve that is mostarda di Cremona—the mustardy fruit relish of the ancient northern Italian city most widely known for its violins.”

But don’t take my word for it. Someone better known than me praised 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die like this: “…I can tell you that what Mimi doesn’t know is hardly worth knowing. This fat, comprehensive guide to the 1,000 foods to eat before dying is just that: 1,000 foods you NEED to try, urgently. Read…and seek.” —Anthony Bourdain.

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