Seductions of Rice Hardcover – 15 Apr 1999
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"This is a must-have compendium for any serious cook."
Top Customer Reviews
essential book for anyone who likes cooking and has a 'library' of cook books. There are umpteen varieties of
rice grown all over the world, and this book gives you all the info on how and where it grows, how to store it and cook it, and lots more besides. Great recipes too.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This has the most comprehensive inventory of rice types that I have seen. For example, I have only recently found a source for red rice; this book distinguishes between Thai red rice, mahogany rice, Bhutanese red rice, Himalayan red rice, South Indian red rice, South Asian red rice, Vietnamese red cargo rice and Wehani. Reading the differences, even without knowledge of what red rice I bought, allows me to adjust the recipes conservatively so that I don't over-cook, over-power or otherwise mutilate my find.
The recipes are well chosen; many of the recipes are not rice recipes but dishes to accompany rice. This gives the book a greater range than its title might imply. The stories of learning the worldwide recipes on site add to the enjoyment of the recipes; they provide a travelogue of the search for new rices and rice uses. They are accompanied with excellent photographs of growing, harvesting, and cooking rice.
Recipes come from Italy, Mexico, Japan, Turkey, Thailand, India, China, USA, Senegal, Persia, Jamaica, Spain, Uighur (Russian-Chinese border). There is an index by the geographic region which allows the book to serve as an ethnic cookbook.
This is a cookbook to read and to use. I definately recommend it.
For some reason I was expecting one of those thin lightweight essay books on rice and was amazed to discover this is a large, very well made volume with a great deal of narrative and an immense number of recipes. The book is full of countless black and white photographs taken by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid on their rice hunts across the globe. There are also some wonderful color photographs taken by several professionals of food that looks so appetizing I was gaining weight reading the book. It is sufficiently well made and protected to last several generations of rice hungry families
The narrative text provides many dissertations on the varieties of rice and the cooking thereof, as well as many pastiches about the authors' travels and the people they met. Often the recipes themselves contain even more narrative. Much effort has been put into making the book of value intellectually as well as gustatorially. For the most part it is arranged geographically, with chapters on Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Central Asian & Persian, Mediterranean, Senegalese, and North American rice cookery. The obligatory (but often left out) glossary, mail order, bibliography and index sections are also present. The book is clearly intended to be a working reference and the authors' have spared no effort to please.
The recipes are often quite unusual. The writers have a great love for village, local and family cooking. As such you will find few of the ornate banquet dinners that are often presented to us in the US. Instead this is about food cooked by the people who love it the most. The recipes are clearly printed, with ingredients and alternatives carefully spelled out. Instructions are easily written, and it is hard to get lost mid-recipe, which is always a concern for someone as nearsighted as myself. I was delighted with many of them and am inspired to go out and add many bags of rice to my larder. Of course, I will now have to buy my own copy of "Seductions of Rice."
As others have said its part cookbook, part travelouge organized by geography. I found this to be an interesting combination. I bought the thing for the reciepies but find myself enjoying the travelouges while search through it for my next meal. I don't know, it just seems like you get more out of the dish that way.
At the beginning of the book it tells a good chunk about history, cultivation, physiology and processing of rice. This was quite informative. Things like the advantages and disadvantages of hulled vs unhulled rice and rinsing rice before cooking. No perfect solution, just valuable information based on your needs.
The receipies are of course the meat of the book. When I first opened it up I figured it would be 300 ways to prepare rice or something like that. Far from it. Many (say half or more) of the dishes are not rice dishes at all but meals or snacks that you would eat with rice. So while it does have some rice specific dishes its really more of a cookbook that samples dishes from around the world. A good chunk of them are winners, far higher hit rate than I see in most cookbooks.
The receipeis themselves tend to be easy to moderate in complexity. Having its international focus does call for some ingredients that you just wont find at your local chain grocery store. There are some good mail order sources in the back for some of the more shelf stable items. For items that need to be fresh they often suggest substitutes.
Its a great book, I really recommend it and its on my short list of go to books when I ask myself "What do I want to cook for dinner"
The recipes are as authentic as you can expect. It's a breath of fresh air in the midst of this haute cuisine craze where chefs create foods to feed their egos, not their customers and obsess about putting together in the same dish all the unusual ingredients. This is real downhome stuff, not some Americanized versions of ethnic cuisine.
Well done! Keep up the great work!