A Conversation with Ruth Reichl: Part One

Ruth Reichl is one of America's most acclaimed and influential food writers and editors. She was the editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine for ten years until its closing in 2009. Before that she was the restaurant critic of the The New York Times (1993-1999), and both the restaurant critic and food editor of the Los Angeles Times (1984-1993). As co-owner and cook of the collective restaurant The Swallow from 1974 to 1977, she played a part in the culinary revolution that took place in Berkeley, California. She is the author of the  best-selling memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, Garlic and Sapphires, and For You Mom, Finally. Ms. Reichl has been honored with 6 James Beard Awards (one for magazine feature writing and one for multimedia food journalism in 2009; two for restaurant criticism, in 1996 and 1998; one for journalism, in 1994; and Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, 1984) and with numerous awards...

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Report from Bhutan: An Auspicious Beginning

"Expect the unexpected in Bhutan," advised trip leader Tsewang upon picking up our Hiker's Paradise group at the Paro airport. Within 20 minutes, almost as if he'd arranged it especially to illustrate his point, we found ourselves amidst a spectacular, unusual, and hard-to-predict Buddhist ceremony. Tsewang had just caught wind of it before our arrival and whisked us straight from the airport. Joining the crowds of locals, decked in their brightly colored traditional gho (for men) and kira (for women), we zigzaged our way up a prayer flag-lined path to the massive Paro Dzong and then across the hillside overlooking the Paro Valley to the center of activity. A five-story tall and equally wide thongdrel (a cloth-on-cloth appliqué work) was being unfurled and...

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Serendipity's Sketchbook: Fantabilities in Jaisalmer's Fort

Candace Rose Rardon is an American writer, photographer and artist currently living in India. She sketches as she travels, and these sketches, combined with the stories behind them, charmingly capture those fleeting, layered moments that are the stepping stones of travel. Recce will be presenting her on-the-road sketches-and-stories -- her sketchbook of serendipities -- in the months to come. There are a few things this sketch shows: the palace’s intricate cupolas and balustrades, nearly impossible to capture in full detail on paper; the pigeons perching like hideaways among the eaves; and the monochromatic shade of gold that cloaks all of Jaisalmer’s hilltop fort, positioned at the far western edge of India in the Thar Desert. But what it doesn’t show is my own perch on the terrace of 8 July...

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Alchemy of the Word and the World

My earliest world-wanderings were undertaken through others’ words. On the magic carpet of my mother’s voice, I was transported to Narnia by C. S. Lewis, the Sahara and beyond by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Great Places by Dr. Seuss. In high school and college I journeyed to Greece with John Fowles, Venice with Thomas Mann, France with Marcel Proust, Vietnam with Graham Greene, India with E. M. Forster, and Africa with Joseph Conrad. When I managed to actually travel abroad myself, on a summer program in Paris between my junior and senior years in college, I underlined the addresses Ernest Hemingway mentioned in A Moveable Feast and reverently retraced his steps, piling up saucers at the Closerie des Lilas, gazing in awe at his apartment at 74 rue de Cardinal Lemoine...

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Into the Heart of Ancient Japan: A Journey to Kyoto and Shikoku
Journey Through Ancient Japan: Shikoku and Kyoto with Don George

Last year I wrote an article for National Geographic Traveler magazine about one of my favorite places in the world: Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four principal islands, located in the Inland Sea between Kyushu and the main island of Honshu. In that article I wrote: "I fell in love with Shikoku in the 1970s, on a visit with my then girlfriend, Kuniko, who brought me to her family home here from the university in Tokyo, where we were both living. On that trip I discovered a Japan I hadn’t known existed: A place of farms and fishing villages, mountainside shrines and seaside temples, rugged seacoasts and forested hills, time-honored traditions and country kindness." Since that first visit, Kuniko has become my wife, and Shikoku has become my adopted homeland. We have returned more than a dozen times, and astonishingly, Shikoku remains just as I found it more than three decades ago. That's why I'm extremely excited to be leading a small group for GeoEx there...

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Don George, Editor

Don George is Editor in Chief of Wanderlust: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler. He has been Travel Editor for the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle and Salon.com, and Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet Publications. Don has published eight books, including Travel Writing, A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, and Tales from Nowhere. E-mail him at don@geoex.com.

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Erik Weihenmayer