by Kevin Coupe
Amazon has launched yet another entry into the food business - this time with a six-part series on Amazon Prime that is a fascinating and compelling look at food cultures around the world.
"Eat The World" is produced and hosted by chef Emeril Lagasse, who here does something completely different from the cooking shows for which he has become known over the years. "Eat The World" features Lagasse going to six different locales - Sweden, China, Italy, Spain, South Korea, and Cuba - to get a sense of those cultures through both their traditional and modern foods. He's accompanied by fellow chefs on his travels - Mario Batali does with him to Shanghai, for example, in search of the world's greatest soup dumplings - which gives him someone to talk to and with whom he can share various culinary enthusiasms.
The results can be enormously unexpected, such as a look at how Swedish chefs are inventing a kind of modernist cuisine by using traditional ingredients, or how Cuban chefs use limited resources to come up with big, festive and delicious meals. It may be more traditional to go to Italy in search of the world's greatest pizza ... but Lagasse and guest Nancy Silverton conduct their search first by finding the best sources of mozzarella and other local ingredients. (You are guaranteed to finish this episode both hungry and trying to figure out a way to book a trip to the Campania region of Italy.)
In some ways, the six-part series is similar to the TV shows done by Anthony Bourdain, but I find Lagasse to be a lot more agreeable traveling companion. There is an open-heartedness to his curiosity about other cultures and respect for other chefs that makes the shows work; he and his guests all seem to share a genuine affection for each other, and I found myself grateful to be able to join them for their travels.
"Eat The World" is a terrific series, that speaks to the importance of food to the cultures they reflect, and I hope it is an enormous success for Amazon - or at the very least, successful enough that they're willing to fund future travels for Emeril Lagasse, and shows that will make me both hungry and more enlightened.
"Eat The World" is an Eye-Opener. Check it out.
- KC's View: