Book Review : Walk Eat Talk Eat

By Londonist Last edited 94 months ago
Book Review : Walk Eat Talk Eat

If you were a child of the analogue generation, you'll remember gamebooks: stories in which you wove your way through triumphs and disasters via a tricky choice at the bottom of every page. Taking this concept, drastically reducing the peril and transplanting it into the midst of digital-vintage east London is Create Your Own Adventure: A Food Tour Like You Like It.

The book is designed to help you build your own trip around the bars, restaurants, stalls and food shops in a mile-or-so radius of Brick Lane, without the hassle of researching your stops and plotting your route beforehand. Choose from one of three opening ideas, turn to the relevant page, you're off. After you've arrived at your destination to sample, nibble, sip or gorge, you repeat the steps until your belly pleas for mercy.

According to the creator, Charli Matthews (she of the live-action Walk Eat Talk Eat food tours) there are 500-plus combinations of outcomes - no mean feat for a handy-sized book that went from concept to crowd-funding to print in just 16 weeks.

There's good variety in the suggestions, too: from Kashmiri tea to unusual ice-creams, London-brewed ales to possibly the most ridiculously good pork crackling you could ever risk your teeth crunching. But keeping a guide book up to date with any part of London's food scene is a brave undertaking. Already a stop on our route mentioned for its cocktails (Benny's Bar) had fallen foul of that increasingly tired terminological trend, the pop-up. The owner's gone abroad and in his absence it's morphed into Wine Circus at Benny's (which might explain being served a harsh Negroni you could fuel a lawnmower with).

Other minor criticisms are the lack of an index of venues against page number, and the book's physical condition: a chunk of pages popped out of the binding on their first outing (hopefully something a better-funded second edition can remedy). All in all, though, the concept of Create Your Own Adventure is charming, the friendly knowledge useful and the attention to user-experience clear. It's an open invitation to rekindle gamebook memories and play with your food.

The book costs £13 and can be bought online, or from A. Gold, Brick Lane Bookshop, Rough Trade East or Townhouse Window.

By Alex Lemon

Last Updated 10 September 2012