Maya Rudolph narrates a dizzying, nostalgic trip around the world to the cuisines we all miss right now.
Remember traveling and eating out? For those of us still in pandemic lockdowns (which should be all of us, yes I’m looking at you), the cabin fever is real, and it’s not getting any better as winter approaches, and the sunset keeps getting earlier. Dropping just in time to cure our cabin fever is Hulu’s latest cooking/travel series, Eater’s Guide to the World.
This fun travel/food docuseries from popular foodie site Eater drops viewers in a different region in every episode, showing off the best in local cuisine, resident haunts, and a colorful collection of people from the community. The format is similar to series like the late Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Padma Lakshmi’s Taste the Nation, and David Chang’s Ugly Delicious. The main difference is that Eater’s Guide is presented sans host: instead, leading us through these culinary adventures is Maya Rudolph, who narrates each BBQ joint, dive bar, and food market experience with biting humor.
Rudolph’s narration is the star of the show, a surprising treat mixed in with the usual drone shots of locations and slow-mo panning over delicious plates of food. In one moment, she’s describing the crackle and crunch of biting into fried chicken at a Portland bar. The next, she’s describing the forest in Sisters, Oregon as being so remote, “you could let one rip.” Do I wish I could see Rudolph eating tagine in Morocco, or hanging out at the Korean karaoke/BBQ center of NYC? Absolutely! But she’s probably going to be busy for the next four years, and I promise her narration will leave you satisfied.
The episodes also explore lesser-known locales and let us hang out with some fun characters. In NYC, they show up at a taco truck in Queens frequented by Dr. Steven Alvarez, aka “The Taco Professor”. In Morocco, they meet up with local surfers who catch some serious waves and share an epic seafood feast.
And in Portland, you follow in the footsteps of quite possibly the best Karen out there – Karen Brooks, a food writer who starts her day with a chocolate chip cookie, spends the afternoon at a tiki bar, and ends her night at the chef’s counter at Han Oak, a restaurant literally in the home of the chef Peter Cho. In episode 7, they take us to the legendary Claremont Hotel and Lounge, which features a dessert with PBR-infused caramel as a tribute to iconic dancer Blondie, a regular performer in the hotel’s strip club who features PBR in her act.
Each episode is also themed to set the tone of the journey. The first episode, for instance, centers around dining alone in the Pacific Northwest. Granted, while the episodes were filmed before the pandemic, I’m not sure if those of us who have been eating alone these past few months want to keep hearing about the benefits of “eating in solitude.”
Rudolph’s narration is the star of the show, a surprising treat mixed in with the usual drone shots of locations and slow-mo panning over delicious plates of food.
But as a New York resident, I appreciated how they highlighted places that are off the beaten path, like the group of cabbies sharing chai and bread at the New York Badminton Club. They catch up with chef Jarobi White (you may also know him from A Tribe Called Quest) in Miami at Eating House, where he and his wife Dani get their brunch on with Carbonara Eggs Benedict and Cap’n Crunch Pancakes (pancakes made with ground-up cereal).
With seven episodes at around 25 minutes each, Eater’s Guide to the World is like a sampler platter of some of the best foodie spots in the world. You’ll want to look up flights and hotels, itching for the day all the lockdowns are lifted and we can travel again. You’ll chuckle when the show a taco and Rudolph offhandedly remarks, “Oooh, she cute.”
The show’s less about dropping a celebrity host in restaurants and locations, giving a video diary of their travels. Instead, Eater’s Guide to the World is about showcasing the food and the communities that have created it, which makes it a satisfying spin on the usual celebrity travel/food series.
Eater’s Guide to the World hits Hulu (and your taste buds) November 11th.