I might as well get this out of the way - I do not travel much and have never been out of this country. I enjoy, however, hearing about other people's trips, particularly the food, and have noticed traveling foodies often say it's impossible to re-create in this country whatever dish they happen to be describing. I suppose I wouldn't really know, but I tend to doubt such pronouncements. I don't think it's the availability of ingredients - FedEx/UPS/USPS can bring practically anything to one's door - I think it depends more on finding authentic recipes.
While I'm baring my soul, I'll also admit a hyper-sensitivity to book design in general and cookbook design in particular. I did graphic design and food styling for years and sometimes can't help but dismiss books that offend my eye, even if the topic is of interest. Every once in a while I pick up a book that, conversely, is so glossy and beautiful that I imagine it's all looks and no brains and anyway, I'd be petrified of splattering it.
I read a positive review of Trattoria: A Passion for Italian Cooking, by Ursula Ferrigno when it was published last year. With relatively little space for cookbooks in my compact Bolton Hill kitchen, I've an incentive to at least try to avoid cookbook sections in bookstores. Today I was ambushed, not in a bookstore, but instead in the usually depressing Tuesday Morning book aisle. A ten second flip through Trattoria revealed copious stunning photos of food, people, places, and things and convinced me it was easily worth having at a third of its published price, even if I never cooked from it.
Once home, I simply could not stop looking at this book. The photos are nothing short of food porn and the recipes authentic and provocative. So very odd, but right now I have a serious jones to pack a bag and jump a plane to Italy.