Daily Caller

Bribery in Nigeria, Daggers in Yemen

Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller has a small piece by me about adventures in airport security.

Atlantic Monthly

The Best Book I Read Last Year

… was Nicolas Bouvier’s The Way of the World.  Read more over at

Atlantic Monthly

Knuckle of Pork, German Delight

Originally appeared at The Atlantic‘s Food channel.

When I was a butcher — a student job I held for less than a year in California — the cut of meat that most thrilled my knife was beef knuckle. To cut the knuckle from a quarter of cow hanging from a meat hook, you start by finding the kneecap at the top and then hacking it loose from its topmost sinews. Thus unmoored, the kneecap provides a convenient handle on which to tug down as you separate the knuckle from the rest of the leg. The knuckle falls away from the bone in a very natural way, perhaps because gravity is on your side: with a knife in your dominant hand and the kneecap in your other, you let the blade tickle the leg. The knuckle sags away, more eager than most cuts of meat to be tied up and packaged.
American Scene

Dispatches from South Africa

I wrote a few items from South Africa for Reihan Salam’s The American Scene.

Mental Floss

How to Survive an Albanian Blood Feud

The current Mental Floss is running my “Spinning the Globe” feature about Albania.


Pobre, etsita, isolatuta… baina harro

Note: Careful readers may notice something different about this article. It is written in Basque, for the esteemed magazine ARGIA.


Abkhazia eta Hego Osetia plazara atera dira berriki baina ez dira, inolaz ere, “gatazka izoztu”en azken ereduak. Afrikako Adarrean, Somaliland izeneko lurraldea dago. Hauxe duzue “existitzen ez den” herrialde honetara egindako bidaiaren kronika.

Mohammedek begirada eroa zeukan. Faktore hori, eta bere hortz berdeak, mesfidatzeko nahikoa arrazoi ziren. Goiz hartan ezagutu genuen elkar Jijigan, Etiopian. Gizonak hiriko gauza erakargarri bakarra erakusteko, eta murtxikatzeko, gonbita egin zidan: kat izeneko landarearen hostoak. Bertan, Somaliako mugan, Mohammedek kata landatu eta handik garraiatzen zuen gero. Diotenez, makina bat dira kataren esklabo Afrikako Adarreko etorkinen artean. Nola errefusatu landareak sortzen duen zorabio gustagarri hori?


Small World After All

Originally appeared in the Fall 2008 Culture+Travel.

Courtesy of Google Earth

Since Google graphically shrank the Earth, the most far-out trips start at your desk.

When I first logged in to Google Earth, I felt liberated from gravity, space, and time—unmoored from the planet and allowed to soar, like a great bird, and discover the world’s mysterious grandeur. I could go anywhere from my computer. And where, unfettered at last, did I travel first? To the tar roof of my own building. I had no idea there were so many air-conditioning units up there. Is that my clothesline in the back? Are those my socks? The irony was at my own expense. Google Earth is positively pregnant with potential for travelers. And yet my first impulse—yours, too, I bet—was to examine the contours of my own living space, in case the view from above was more than tar. The temptation is deep to explore what you already know, as if an undiscovered screen image were just as harrowing and foreboding as an undiscovered country. But professional travelers have begun exploiting Google Earth, both to find new sites for exploration and to enrich their knowledge of places they’ve already visited. Nathaniel Waring, president of the high-end tour outfit Cox & Kings, scouts potential adventure-tour locations by prowling Google Earth obsessively. Scouring coastlines for surfing destinations, for example, he points out the wispily serrated shore of Scorpion Bay, in Baja California. The wisps suggest “a very good point break,” he says, something no atlas can convey.

Atlantic Monthly

Notes from the First-Class Car

Theroux has been writing travel books for 35 years, and for almost as long, reviewers have been slandering him (repetitively — they hunt in packs) as “prickly,” ornery, or otherwise disagreeable. I must be unusually tolerant. To me, Theroux seems a model of evenness, neither too crabby nor too tolerant. More to the point: Have these reviewers ever traveled? Long-term travel is misery and loneliness. It is trips in buses where children puke out the window, in filthy boats captained by drunk Albanians, in trains where porters warn you to keep your windows open, so thieves can’t gas you as you sleep. It is grim hotel rooms with stained sheets. A little crabbiness is the only sane response.