November 7, 2014
International Night by Mark Kurlansky
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons
There is so much to love about this book! Curl up by the fire and read about the different countries and dishes represented here, or just get in the kitchen and start cooking! I love that along with familiar places such as Greece, Germany and Italy you also have Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Algeria, Aquitaine, Kazakhstan and French Guinea. My girls love the Cornish Pasties, and Fennel Salad from Sicily is quite lovely and simple to make. Try an entire meal from a country or your choice, or pick and choose dishes to make a truly International night! Hmmm, Spatzle from Germany followed by Hazelnut Salad from Switzerland, Pork Adobo from Philippines, Green Beans and Carrots from Haiti followed by Apple Blackberry Pie from Norway. You are only limited by your imagination--and sometimes your pocketbook for some of the more 'exotic' ingredients.
A couple of things dropped the rating of this book. Even a few photos would have been nice (an occasional line drawing of a cabbage, pineapple or other ingredient doesn't do much for me in a cookbook). Also, if you don't read the introductory portion of the book you won't know that all the recipes are configured to feed three people because that's the size of the author's family. NONE of the recipes I could find lists serving size. The author explains this away as his daughter telling him when he does math to shrink or expand a recipe he is "no fun", so he leaves that to his reader. Fine, hire someone to do it for you, then. Having recipes designed for 3 people can be pretty awkward for someone with a family of 4. We have six in our family so I can easily double, but others may have to work more to get an amount that works for them. This just feels very unprofessional to me.
Even with the drawbacks mentioned above, this is a great cookbook full of interesting food. As a homeschool mom, it's also a great tool in school. Instead of just learning about different countries from a book, why not incorporate their cuisine into your studies as well?! With this book we'll get a little extra math in when we double the recipes as well.
I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.