Please don't read this wonderful book as some sort of supplement to the series. The opposite approach should in fact be taken, as Bourdain freely admits that he only agreed to the cable TV deal in order to be able to finance his wordwide research for the book.

A worthy younger brother to the earlier and much beloved (well, by me anyway) Kitchen Confidential, this is a tightly written, highly well crafted entry into the growing genre of travel writing; what's great is that it incorporates food writing as well, giving the book a double appeal to sybarites and adventurers.

By turns hilarious, touching, scary and thought provoking, the book covers much more than just the dietary differences between countries and cultures. Bourdain stage manages his meals to be microcosms of the local geography, history, religion, politics and tradition. Be it a Vietnamese establishment where you can order a Kalashnikov and a round of ammunition with your meal or a traditional Japanese Ryokan where breakfast is served in your quarters by a pair of maids in kimono, each one of his steps on the quest for the perfect meal is a complete and rounded cultural experience.

Having proved already to be an accomplished non-fiction writer, Bourdain here hones his style further, fine tuning the balance between journalitic realism, romantic thoughtfulness and that irreverent hilarity that originally endeared him to so many readers. This is a book to make you laugh, make you hungry - and if it doesn't make you want to go to Vietnam, you've not been reading properly...