Many years ago, the Saveur contributing editor Shane Mitchell found herself on assignment in Oslo, and reluctant to leave her hotel. “I was frozen—at the time, it felt like I was in such a strange place,” she says. But she was desperately hungry, and the need for a meal pulled her from her room and into the city. “Food is a universal; we all have to eat,” Mitchell says. For the past decade, Mitchell and the photographer James Fisher have traversed the globe, seeking out and documenting food traditions. As she writes in the introduction to her new book, Far Afield, each of its ten chapters chronicles her interactions with “people who are firmly rooted in their culture and landscape, in some of our most isolated or marginal communities, where keeping the food chain vital remains a daily chore.”
In Far Afield, Mitchell collects and transcribes recipes for some of the dishes she experienced throughout her travels. The Sudanese stew is in there, as is a Hawaiian recipe for chocolate haupia pudding pie, a complicated dessert that Mitchell says took her nearly a full day to prepare. But one of the most memorable foods she tried was also one of the simplest: coconut rice from Kenya, which features in some of the country’s more complicated dishes. “Recipes are a way of replicating an experience for people who aren’t going to go and climb a 16,000-foot mountain in the Andes, or ford a river in a Hawaiian valley,” Mitchell says.