Top critical review
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Good Book, But.....
on 19 April 2010
I waited in anticipation for this book to arrive and when it arrived I cannot say I was entirely satisfied. Don't get me wrong, the recipes which I wanted are all there; I have travelled extensively in Russia and sampled all the usual favourites. I was particularly enthralled by the inclusion of recipes from Georgia (my favourite cuisine). So what is it that has caused me to hesitate to give this book a much higher rating?
Firstly the book is in need of a revamp... mentioning how difficult things are to obtain is not quite true anymore, and especially here in the UK. Take a ride between Leyton and Walthamstow (London) and if you haven't found at least a dozen Eastern Eurpopean Mini Markets, then you are really not looking. Most all of the ingredients, with the exception of some of the more exotic are available on this short stretch of road, so supplies are not a problem; I realise though that the book was written for the North American market, however the global village has expanded at a fast rate since this book was first published and a revamp could take that into account: Saying that, any book with a list of suppliers in it is going to be outdated very quickly and this book is no exception.
Secondly, the book could do with some pictures in it... anyone trying to make Pelmeni without having first seen the dish may be in a little trouble and end up making Ravioli... Any recipe book worth it's salt needs a photo or two and basically, without the inclusion of any photos, this book is almost reminiscent of a Soviet Era cookbook of the 50s.
Finally, the inclusion of some of the narrative adds nothing to the book, unless you hanker for the "Good Old Soviet Days" and standing in a queue for hours on end waiting for a chicken or piece of sausage.
On a final note and in spite of my last comment, the inclusion of some of the Russian (and other nationalities) customs around food and drink were interesting. But the cooking of food is just one part of enjoying cuisine from another country... to enjoy the cuisine fully it is so much better to get into the culture and let's face it, in Russia, food is a "culture".
In conclusion, if you are looking for something more than just recipes and want to know more about the culture of "Russian" food then this is the book for you, if you want just recipes and some photos of what the finished product should look like, you may be a little disappointed!