‘How Anthony Bourdain Helped Bring Roads & Kingdoms’ Book on Italy to Life’ by Matt Goulding

— Melissa Mesku

Most of the world dreams of Italy—of the pinup landscape porn, the cumulus clouds of cappuccino foam, the meals that stretch on… More than anywhere else in the world, food carries the full weight of Italy’s heritage. Politicians are corrupt, democracy is fragile, borders are porous, but la cucina italiana is eternal.

Not so long ago, Matt Goulding, co-founder of the award-winning food and travel publication Roads & Kingdoms, sent a letter to Anthony Bourdain.

“Does the world need another book about Italian food?” Goulding asked.

Bourdain essentially said no. “Still,” he continued, “if you ignore my advice and write this book anyway, I’ll read it. If it’s good, I might even publish it.”

As it turns out, he did publish it. This week marks the release of Pasta, Pane, Vino, Goulding’s Italian culinary travelogue, published by Bourdain and HarperCollins. It’s Goulding’s third in a series of such books, the other two about food in Japan and Spain, all published by Bourdain. The relationship went deep; Bourdain also curated Roads & Kingdoms’ excellent Dispatched longform journalism series. The books and the series both do justice to the kind of food journalism the man was loved for, with its deeply human perspective and its almost radical lack of pretense. Now more than ever, in a post-Bourdain world, it is warming to know the legacy lives on, both in plates of food shared with friends around the world and in the journalism that captures the full weight of it.

To accompany the book’s release and in honor of Anthony Bourdain’s passing, this week Roads & Kingdoms published the correspondence between Bourdain and Goulding, a cache of letters as touching and candid and surprising as their work.

Roads & Kingdoms