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

 

With restrictions across the country in a state of constant flux, not everyone is ready to jump back into meeting in person. While some planners are eager to get back to “normal,” the long-term adjustment to new protocols and potential risks make some hesitant to gather.

While wearing masks and social distancing can help keep attendees safe, intentional design choices—such as including natureinspired elements and materials and plenty of plants—can also help calm attendees.

 

I once managed a conference for a group of 100 high-level members of the U.S. defense industry. When I poked my head into the back of the room during the plenary session, I was overwhelmed by the gravity of the presenter’s content.

But even more concerning was that few people appeared to be paying attention. From my vantage point, I could see that 
the majority of participants were on their phones and tablets engaged in everything from social media to email to creating a PowerPoint presentation.

 

Work on your plan for crowd control — big or small.