Now Serving: Breakfast for Alligators

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It was over nine years in the making. Today, Breakfast for Alligators: Quests, Showdowns, and Revelations in the Americas has been released!

A sharp-shooting SWAT team, a Venezuelan producer of alcoholic love potions, and an audacious subway rat are among the cast of characters I encounter in this collection of stories from around the Western Hemisphere. Along the way, I expose the health benefits of eating wild-caught jungle rodents and mud turtles. I reveal a lesson in aging, courtesy of the street art of Valparaiso, Chile. I share the pleasures of traveling at the speed of the shoe.

“DuFord has created a series of magical and often humorous travel stories in which no local foods, material realities, or local rituals are off-limits. Breakfast for Alligators is a joy to read.”
  Gregory Hubbs, editor of Transitions Abroad

“Intrepid and chronically curious, Darrin DuFord charges into the more obscure corners of Latin America and brings back revealing, sometimes bizarre details. Warning: may inspire impulse plane-ticket purchases.
  Zora O’Neill, author of All Strangers Are Kin: Adventures in Arabic and the Arab World

“Darrin DuFord’s latest magnum opus vividly takes us from the steamy New Orleans suburbs to the jungles of Guyana to the coffee-covered hills of Nicaragua and beyond. This is more than breakfast: it’s a readable, enjoyable feast, best consumed any time of day or night.”
  David Farley, author of An Irreverent Curiosity

“DuFord captures the best of travel writing—by turn informative and entertaining, often hilarious, sometimes moving… He takes us on one wild ride after another.”
  Tony Perrottet, author of Napoleon’s Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped

Several of the pieces have won medals in the Solas Awards and the NATJA awards. Most of the pieces have never been published and make their world debut today.

Breakfast for Alligators is available in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon and will be available on Barnes & Noble later today. If your local bookstore does not have it in stock, they can order it for you using the book’s ISBN number: 978-0692664438.

You may also order a signed copy via a Paypal button my website here.

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The Benefits of Speaking in Hats

I may be seen in cargo pants and sneakers most of the time, but my fascination with headwear may very well make up for my general ambivalence to fashion trends.

Such a targeted fascination is a good thing. I recently found out that my story about Panamanian hats will appear in The Best Travel Writing Volume 11 (Travelers’ Tales/Solas House), to be released in the fall. I feel blessed—I have been a fan of the series since its inception.

The piece, which was previously published by Compass Cultura last year and won a gold medal in the Solas Awards, was also selected as a Travelers’ Tales Editor’s Choice a few weeks ago.

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A Double Helping of Capybara

Chef Charlie Otero prepares capybara (ponche) at the restaurant La Comunión in Cartagena.

Chef Charlie Otero prepares capybara (ponche) at the restaurant La Comunión in Cartagena.


My quest for uncovering enjoyable choices of free-range, antibiotic-free meat has often led me to species that remain rare or unheard of in the realm of industrial farming. While I’ve roamed deep into the world of edible rodents–from guinea pigs to nutria to dormice–I had never secured the chance to explore the culinary possibilities of capybara, the world’s largest rodent, until I journeyed to Colombia last year.

For Vice, I test capybara’s viability as an main ingredient of a fine dining experience in Cartagena, where the locals call the meat ponche; and for Roads & Kingdoms, I offer a drink pairing for capybara (also known locally as chigüire) in a Bogota barbecue joint. Take your pick, or go for ’em both!

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A Nod to the Past and Future: Awards and Publication News

There is something to be said for consistency. And it’s a blessing to have consistency during awards season.

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My story “Speaking in Hats” (published in Compass Cultura in July, 2015) won a gold medal in both the NATJA Awards and the Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards. Meanwhile, “Off the Deep End in Captain Karl’s Homemade Yellow Submarine” previously published in Narratively in March, 2015) won a bronze medal in each of the respective competitions. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the stories, the links to each double-medal winner are above.

I’m honored to be rubbing virtual shoulders with such writers as Michael Luongo, Jayme Moye, Lola Akinmade Åkerström, David Noyes, Tim Leffel, Andrew McCarthy, Christopher P. Baker, Shelly Rivoli, and all the winners of NATJA Awards this year. And I’m thrilled that I can count myself among such writers as Kimberley Lovato, Jayme Moye, James Dorsey, Erin Byrne, Lola Akinmade Åkerström, Erik R. Trinidad, Shelly Rivoli, Mara Gorman, Lance Mason, and Marcia DeSanctis who won awards this year in the Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards.

The complete list of NATJA Awards winners is here.

The complete list of Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards winners is here.

And now for the future:

I’m happy to announce that my next book, Breakfast for Alligators: Quests, Showdowns, and Revelations in the Americas, will be released in July, 2016 by Tilted Hat Press. “Off the Deep End in Captain Karl’s Homemade Yellow Submarine” will appear in the compilation, along with over thirty other stories, most of which having never been published before. Stay tuned…

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Patacon con todo: it’s the meal you excavate.

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The current street food trend in the States is a double-edged sword. The hipster trucks tend to raise the average price of street food, but at the same time, the mind-spinning variety of cuisines and creations offered by new trucks has enrichened the street life experience. On the whole, I’d say we’re much better off than before.

In many cities in Latin America, street food never needed a trend to fuel its existence. This is not that surprising. Street food is cheap. Also, public space such as plazas–bountiful throughout Latin America–lend themselves to street food set-ups more easily than the mostly car-centric city layouts of America. It’s all about the interaction.

And in Cartagena’s Plaza de la Trinidad, host to an inviting mixture of musicians, street performers, food carts, and friendly stray dogs, I recently tried one of the popular offerings: the patacon con todo. My debut piece for Vice Munchies narrates my experience, in which I tap my inner geologist and stumble upon a connection between Colombian street food and Dr. Seuss.

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