Publisher: Murdoch Books
Date Published: June 2006
Pages: 599 pages, hardcover with jacket
a journey for food lovers
‘the food of the world’ is a sumptuous collection of the world’s best recipes. Each dish is beautifully photographed and double tested in our kitchens for authenticity and accuracy. There are everyday snacks, staple fare for regular meals and elegant dinner menus with delicious desserts. Recipes come from the very heart of China, the smallest village in France and the busy streets of India. Prepare home-cooking straight from Southern Italian kitchens and learn about the produce and night market food of Thailand.
My sister bought this book for my Mother for Christmas, saying ‘cookbooks are the presents that keep on giving’ (eg, we’ll cook for her). The fact that someone who doesn’t actually cook was attracted to this book speaks volumes. ‘the food of the world’ presents itself as a collection of authentic world cuisine for the home cook with wide tastes.
One aspect I found interesting is that recipes are not separated into cuisines, rather the sections as follows:
This heaping together of dishes suggests the changing nature of world cuisine, or the development of eating foreign dishes as common, and how the dishes inside are becoming more recognizable in the average household. The majority of the recipes I’ve seen before, but there were a few surprises. There are dishes from a wide range of cuisines, but Italian, French, Indian and Thai dishes are featured the most.
There is a lot of photography, including many somewhat cringe-worthy pictures of cultural settings. For instance, a curry recipe will be accompanied by a picture of a Hindu temple. Annoyingly, there are also little quotes like ‘delicious street food is available at night markets’. These quotes tend to aggravate me, because I suddenly feel like a pratty tourist going ‘oh, isn’t it cute!’. In some respects, it is more of a picture book than recipe book. The layout, particularly in the beginning collage section, is eclectic, but in the recipe section it becomes more sensible. The words are large and the recipes themselves are set out in an easy to read manner. Recipes requiring delicate hand motion (for instance filling won ton wrappers) have step by step instruction pictures. Also, the Pizza section in the glossary was deftly handled (there is a grid of different kind of Pizzas with their ingredients listed briefly).
‘the food of the world’ is enormous. It weighs 2.6kg and the dimensions are 305 x 240 mm (the surface area of the cover was so large that it wouldn’t fit on my scanner, I had to crop the image). You assume a book this large would have a wealth of content, an encyclopedia almost. The creators were banking on this to get their consumers attention, yet this aspect is also its downfall. The expectations that such a hefty and dramatically named book creates are not fulfilled: despite its huge size, ‘the food of the world’ doesn’t have that many recipes. For every two pages there is usually only one recipe (one page being the photograph of the finished meal, the other the instructions), at most only three recipes.
‘the food of the world’ is by no means a bad book. It has a nice selection of recipes. But, it is better suited for someone who isn’t that into cooking, yet would like an all-rounder for when they want to make Thai Green Curry. Food lovers and more experienced cooks (the group it was supposed to be aimed at) may find ‘the food of the world’ lacking and would be better off buying books specialising in each cuisine, rather than a project that tries to cover them all but falls short.
♥♥½ – 2½/5