Kitchens of the World.
Burnstown, Ontario: The General Store Publishing House, 1995. 192pp,
spiral-bound paper, $17.95.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by A. Edwardsson.
As you read this book and use these recipes, I urge you to think
about people, their societies, the meaning of food and its natural
resources. Think about how to prevent starvation and the gross
nutritional imbalances in the world. Think about the African or Latin
American peasant and the beauty of living, the growing of food, its
preparation and its eating. Then think about the millions of people who
have lost their traditional sources of food so that the land can be used
to grow our luxury products -- cotton, tobacco, and sugar.
I have eaten in numerous restaurants throughout North America and
gazed in dismay at huge quantities of food left on other diners' tables.
Likewise browsing in bookshops, I've seen whole sections devoted to
cookbooks, each filled with tasty recipes to tempt our already overfed
bodies. . . To address this injustice, I resolved that monies generated
from the sale of a cookbook should be used to feed and provide better
living conditions for those less fortunate
This international collection features favourite recipes sent to the
author by eighty-four foreign diplomats based in Canada. "Having
personally travelled and eaten in some 65 countries, I used my experience
in choosing those [recipes] which, hopefully, will best tantalize your
palates," Ken Mackenzie-Smith writes. He has also generously pledged nine dollars from
each book purchased to OXFAM-Canada.
Each recipe is introduced with the name of the ambassador who
contributed it, and some background information on their country. The
double-page spreads have the Geography (location, population, climate,
and agriculture) and Cuisine (common or popular dishes and flavours) on the
left, with the (often) short recipe on the right. There is an index of
recipes at the back, with the countries' names in brackets.
Although Kitchens of the World could be a useful book
for an extended study of world cultures, many recipes may not sound
appealing to teens -- for example, Le Amiwo (oil paté), or rabbit
with prunes. So this collection would probably be better suited to
There are some hard-to-find ingredients with no suggestions for
substitutions. Yuca croquettes call for a pound and a half of yuca, and you'll need
eighteen plantain leaves and two rolls of pita cord to make
Nacatamales. Mango soup calls for a half-cup of soda pop, but what
type? Cola? 7-Up?
Other problems with ingredients are their fat or alcohol contents.
Honduran Rompopo (a drink) uses twelve egg yolks and four cups
guaro, a grain liquor. Scampi needs one and a half cups of white
wine and three and half pounds of costly prawns.
There are no pictures or illustrations between the covers, but the
layout is clear and ingredients are listed in both imperial and metric
measurements. A language glossary of common foods and spices at the back
has French, German, and Spanish translations for a list of English
ingredients. Readers can also see a list of countries OXFAM-Canada is
helping, along with a brief description of its work there.
Also in its favour, this well-intentioned book steps off the
well-trodden ethnic path to give us some different dishes. Mexico isn't
tacos, it's stuffed, grilled fish wrapped in tortillas. From France we
get Daube a la Provencale, rather than French Onion soup. The
short length of the recipes means they're approachable, not intimidating,
and there are a number of dishes for vegetarians.
This book might work at the senior-high level for expanded geography
or food science/home economics studies. The cuisine paragraphs and wacky
ingredients might be of interest to junior high students. For open-minded
chefs, it could be a good purchase.
Recommended with reservations.
A. Edwardsson is in charge of the Children's Department at a branch of
the Winnipeg Public Library. She has a Bachelor of Education degree and a
Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba
branch of the Canadian Authors' Association.
To comment on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
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