Top critical review
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Beautifully illustrated but ...
on 5 March 2014
.. this great slab of a book (888 pages) falls a little short of its aim to be "a journey through the great cuisines of the world".
Clearly cobbled together from a multitude of Lonely Planet guides, it provides an entertaining if rather superficial introduction to some 48 cuisines from around the world. Not surprisingly, the big hitters - France, India, China etc. figure largely here, whereas there are some surprising major omissions (Nepal and Bangladesh spring immediately to mind) and a few curious inclusions (which I thought I'd better not name at the risk of peeing some readers off, but seriously, is Canadian cuisine that distinctive?). Think I would have preferred to see fewer pagers splurged on the major players and even just the odd page devoted to Icelandic, Maltese, Croatian food etc.
Each section provides a little background to the culture behind each cuisine, plus some important etiquette do's and don't s. The photographs are excellent and evocative throughout.
There are, however, disappointingly few recipes (the "Cook This" sections) and, if you're looking to whet your appetite to experiment at home with more exotic cuisines, then you will probably be disappointed. Would have been nice to see some advice for the travelling vegetarian too.
Rather inadequately, the index is laid out in country order, so it's not easy to look up a particular dish, unless you already know exactly where it comes from.
For a quick browse, before you visit a country, this is worth a look, or even to leave out for your guests to admire as a coffee table book (but even then, its great cuboid slab-shape isn't the ideal fit).
Not quite sure who this is aimed at. Whilst certainly attractive enough, its scattergun approach will probably prove frustrating if you're seeking genuine detail about a particular cuisine and the paucity of recipes in a book of this title is, quite frankly, bizarre.