The perfect holiday gift is beautiful, unique and filled with wonder. Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide is all of these things and more: a travel-lover’s delight with enough offbeat facts about food to spark countless conversations at the next cocktail party or event. The lavishly illustrated, newly published book from Atlas Obscura, the popular website that’s a crowd-sourced database of weird and wonderful places across the globe, is a journey through fascinating and often farfetched history, culture, places and traditions, told through the lens of food.

Gastro Obscura is rich with “did you know” gems. Did you know, for example, that The Citrus Collection at the University of California, Riverside, is the largest in America, containing more than 1,000 different citrus varieties across 22 acres? Or, that Beacon Food Forest in Seattle is the country’s largest public edible garden, teeming with 350 species of peans and vegetables and that anyone is allowed to forage here? Or, that Brooklyn Grange operates the largest rooftop soil farm in the world, producing over 100,000 pounds of organic produce every year (its Sunday farmer’s market are free and open to the public). And, you might not know that the country’s last known surviving  horse-drawn lunch wagon is the Owl Night Lunch Wagon, which dates back to the 1890s and is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.

Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras, the book’s authors, have been traveling  on their ambitious literary tour with what they call the “World’s Most Unusual Vending Machine.” The customized vending machine dispenses items like canned bread, a berry that makes lemons taste sweet, and a Rwandan spice that’s so tongue-scorching it’s dispensed by eyedropper. Sounds to us like a great interactive experience for a corporate gathering. To order the book or learn about upcoming tour dates, visit books.atlasobscura.com

 

Every time we power up an Internet-accessible device, we put ourselves and, if we’re on a network, everyone and everything on that network at risk. For years, experts advised us to protect ourselves by continually updating our anti-virus software. But that’s no longer enough. The “black hats,” aka hackers, are winning the game with more sophisticated ways to use and abuse our data. 

 

Social media has drastically changed since I was in college. Thanks to Instagram, Twitter and FB, the hashtag symbol is becoming a larger topic when it comes to following, reporting and engaging with companies, friends or events. I personally love following the buzz during events that I cannot attend via hashtags. Savvy event planners can use hashtags to help our industry and business grow.

 

Posed for perfection and moving beyond "say cheese."