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A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal
by Anthony Bourdain (2001)

Have you ever had a hankering for, say, the still-beating heart of a cobra but maybe wanted someone to give it a taste test first? Don't sweat it: Bourdain, a rock star on the New York culinary scene, has already tried it for you. During his worldwide quest for the "perfect meal," Bourdain also sampled, among other delicacies, goat's-head soup and pork-blood cake. Written in a conversational style, A Cook's Tour comes across as a series of you-did-not stories that the author might tell as he's working the burners in the kitchen. Given that his voyage took him through tiny Vietnamese villages and even smaller Moroccan camps, Bourdain's book is for adventurers of all types, even those with more meat-and-potatoes palates.

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AA Gill Is Away by AA Gill (2005)

The 21 travel essays included here (written between 1995 and 2001) tell of this Sunday Times columnist's adventures from Sudan to the San Fernando Valley, with stops in Russia, Bethlehem, Argentina, India, Japan, and beyond. ("AA Gill is away" is the message that appears in the paper when he is on assignment.) Using his nonnative nature as a wedge, Gill is something like a serious - or more serious, at any rate - version of Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakhstan reporter Borat Sagdiyev. His naive approach to each new country and culture (not to mention his gift for mischief) allows him to unearth essential truths about each place and the people there who might otherwise go undetected.

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Y: The Last Man
by Brian K. Vaughan (ongoing series)

I’ll be honest with you: There is an extremely slim chance you will ever find yourself in the same predicament as Yorick Brown, the wisecracking amateur escape artist at the center of the comic book Brian K. Vaughan began writing in 2002. I mean, maybe, just maybe, a strange plague will attack the planet, wiping out (almost) every male of every species in existence. I don’t want to say it will never happen. But even if it never does, you still might be inspired to go see the world by following the exploits of Yorick and his ragtag band of sisters as they travel back and forth across the country — and eventually across the sea — looking for answers to the mysterious epidemic. — Z.C.