I'm ready for Sydney, seafood field guide ordered and oven thermometer packed. My wife, Jeff (Jennifer), has bought us a spare suitcase in which to bring back our culinary discoveries, and online our 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, has found a promising shop called Hannah's Pies. After a flurry of e-mails to friends and several hours of Internet research, I've produced some heavily annotated food maps of Sydney, on which I've drawn walking routes and highlighted potential attractions.
We're a family accustomed to culinary adventures. I describe some of them in my new cookbook, A Tale of 12 Kitchens, which recounts our travels to 12 cities around the world and includes collages made with items (menus, photos, scribbled recipes) we collected along the way. Sydney could well become kitchen number 13. Our month in Australia, which includes two weeks in Sydney, has been prompted by an exhibition of my wife's ceramics that coincides perfectly with the launch of my cookbook there.
Sydney's cultural diversity should suit us. My parents live half the year in Italy, giving our home cooking an Italian bias, and Jeff's family runs a farm in Scotland. And our London neighborhood, Peckham, has the broadest range of international cuisines I've seen anywhere. Everywhere we travel, we love to explore ethnic restaurants and food shops, talk to store owners and try out local recipes. Staying in houses that have kitchens helps us feel instantly at home when we travel.