I was going to choose my favourite book from the Time Life Foods of the World series that was published in the 1970’s. However, in flipping through them to find THE one I realized there were too many to choose JUST one. Not only that, the books had me reminiscing about various places I’ve visited and those I plan on travelling to. Without realizing it, I had spent two hours being transported to far-off and exciting destinations and returned to the here-and-now with lots of new-old recipes to cook.
Unfortunately the series is out of print, but I did find some individual books advertised on eBay if you’re interested and I would hope that second hand bookstores might have copies.
Each book covers a different country or group of countries. The pages are filled with the most beautiful National Geographic quality photographs of the people, their culture and the foods they produce and serve.
Basically, the books are well-written travelogues with rich descriptions of the various customs, the history of the different regions and always the focus on food. Each volume has a glorious photo of food from that particular culture on the cover and many more inside that bring to life the local customs. Just remember that it was written in the '70's and so some of the names have changed, but the food remains constant.
The book packaging is brilliant. The coffee-table book is accompanied by a small, wire-bound recipe book that fits into a cover that keeps the two books together, but allows you to take just the recipe book into the kitchen and avoiding messing up the beautiful hard-covered volume.
At the back of each recipe book there’s an index of recipes in English and one in the local language (phonetic, of course) along with a glossary of food terms. Uncommon recipes have photos stepping out the directions, so they all are really “no fail”. I must admit I never tried any of the recipes from the Classic French Cooking (too labor intensive for me) or Japan (at least not yet), but even those were read cover to cover. Food is a wonderful way to learn about a country, its people and the unique cultures of different regions.
Here are a few of the covers and some amazing photos just to give you an idea of how visually appealing the books are. Next post will have some delicious recipes to try out. Let me know if you would like a complete list of all the books in the series.
Cooking of Spain and Portugal
Cooking of China
Cooking of India
Harvesting in Indian Rice Paddy
Chilies near Madurai, S India