, prolific producer of humorous travel stories
Born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1951, Bryson travelled to Europe in
1972 and returned with his friend Stephen Katz, an experience he later
wrote about in Neither Here Nor There:
I went up to six or eight places and studied the menus by the door but
they were all full of foods with ominous Germanic names -- Schweinensnout
mit Spittle und Grit, Ramsintestines und Oder Grosser Stuff, that sort
of thing. I expect that if ordered they would turn out to be
reasonably digestible, and possibly even delicious, but I can never
get over this nagging fear that I will order at random and the waiter
will turn up with a steaming plate of tripe and eyeballs. Once in
Bavaria Katz and I recklessly ordered Kalbsbrann from an indecipherable
menu and a minute later the proprietor appeared at our table, looking
hesitant and embarrassed, wringing his hands on a slaughterhouse apron.
"Excuse me so much gentlemens," he said, "but are you
knowing what Kalbsbrann is?"
We looked at each other and allowed that we did not.
"It is, how you say, what ze little cow thinks wiz," he
Katz swooned. I thanked the man profusely for his thoughtfulness in
drawing this to our attention, though I dare say it was a self-interested
desire not to have two young Americans projectile-vomiting across
his dining-room that brought him to our table ... it takes a special kind
of vigilance to make your way across a continent on which people
voluntarily ingest tongues, kidneys, horsemeat, frogs' legs, intestines,
sausages made of congealed blood, and the brains of little cows.
In 1977, apparently having overcome his fear of European cuisine,
Bryson settled in North Yorkshire, England and lived there for many
years with his English wife and their four children. In 1997 he
returned to the United States from where he continues his writing.
His books regularly feature in the best-sellers list in the UK, and
his unique blend of travel writing and humour seems to be unsurpassed.