More of a reference book than a cookbook, this 960-page tome has a wealth of information in it for anyone interested in Really Good Food. The book is rich in details, anecdotes and fact, and the accompanying pictures are as mouth-watering as the descriptions of the foods.
The book is organized into sections including Fruit, Vegetables, Dairy, Fish, Meats, Aromatics, Grain, Bakery and Confections, with an included glossary of epicurean terms. Each food entry is concise yet provides information on its history, flavor profile, health benefits, preparation, appellation, seasonality and more.
As you may have guessed, many of the entries in the book are not kosher. Then there are some more exotic entries that make me glad that I keep kosher. While I’ve seen lobsters and crabs aplenty in many cookbooks and magazines, some of the things listed in the book had me wondering at the sanity of the non-kosher world.
I wasn’t too keen on the glossing over of the Israel/Jewish elements in the book. Many of the Middle Eastern entries omit Israel completely, and the ones that did I felt were included resentfully. One in particular, the entry for matzah was simply silly:
Derived from the Hebrew word for matzah…
I would have liked things to be in alphabetical order so I could find things more easily. I also would have included an index page where I could check off the things that I’ve already had the pleasure of tasting. No matter, the book is still a pleasure to read, with each turned page a new discovery of foods that I’ve already had the pleasure of eating, or exotic ingredients that I have yet the pleasure to make their acquaintance.