Monday, November 3, 2008
Cookbook Review: Extending the Table
Extending the Table is another World Community Cookbook published by the Central Mennonite Committee in the spirit of More-with-Less. It is a collection of recipes from around the world; recipes were contributed by Mennonite missionaries as well as natives from across the globe. There are also anecdotes, proverbs, and informational tidbits about life in other countries, particularly those that relate to food and everyday eating.
This cookbook is quite eye-opening in some respects. Some people in the world must be so much more resourceful than we Americans have to be just to put daily food on their tables! Most recipes stretch expensive ingredients, such as meat, as far as possible. Recipes feature lots of grains, beans, and simple vegetables.
The recipes themselves are usually quite easy to follow and use fairly easily obtained ingredients. Other than coconut products, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and a few chilies, nearly everything called for is very ordinary. The process for many recipes is somewhat labor intensive compared to many of our modern, American shortcuts, but for those looking to eat healthily for cheap, this is often necessary. No weird spice blends are called for, but you will need curry powder and some whole spices (cloves, etc.) for some recipes.
As far as authenticity goes, these recipes seem to be fairly authentic. There are more exotic cookbooks out there, but this cookbook wins my vote for an easy introduction to the way most of the rest of the world eats on a daily basis. This is not a cookbook designed to give you the same food you might eat in the Thai restaurant on Main Street; instead, you'll find the everyday Pad Thai recipe a simple Thai housewife might be cooking up.
This would be a good cookbook to check for in your local library, especially if your child needs to do a social studies project on Argentina or Turkey or Cambodia! Some of our favorites are Chilaquiles, Quesadilla Muffins, and Noodles with Broccoli and Meat.