According to singer/song writer Brett Dennen, ‘Food is the great equaliser …the thing that we all share in common’. Yes, at a very basic level, we all must eat, but do we eat the same things? One way to explore World Cuisine through Dewey is to approach it by location – by nation or continent. While it can be fascinating to browse recipes and food culture in this way, a more comparative approach is possible at the 641.59s.
I thought I might begin my World Cuisine journey by trying to pinpoint key food cultures around the world.
International Cuisine by Jeremy-MacVeigh was written with the intent to place foods and the culinary arts in their cultural and historical context, in an effort to create more authentic cuisines. The book is organised into four geographic regions and the individual cuisines represented. Each chapter includes historical culinary influences, unique components, recipes and common terms and ingredients. Well illustrated with maps, foods and techniques, International cuisine is not only a great resource for anyone interested in a more holistic and comparative approach to the topic, it is also a well organised instructional text for those working in the food industry. You can preview a copy here: International Cuisine
The story of food : an illustrated history of everything we eat foreword by Giles Coren, covers over 100 foods in ten chapters that include the major food types, and associated human efforts to source, develop and use them for physical and cultural sustenance. Food types include Nuts and Seeds, Fruits and Vegetables, Meat, Fish, Grains, Dairy, Sugars, Oils, Herbs and Spices. Sumptuously illustrated, this book explores all aspects of a food’s history and provides a solid reference for further research. Detailed without being comprehensive, The story of food may not be a book to read in one sitting but rather something that is best approached in may sittings.
The seven culinary wonders of the world by Jenny Linford looks at seven ingredients in world cuisine that are often cited as being the most significant across the world: rice, salt, honey, pork, tomato, chili and cacao. People are preoccupied with food and the seven ingredients listed in this book, represent the most widely and consistently used foods in a vast array of cuisines through history, and across the continents. The reason behind this use becomes apparent when the ingredients are placed in a historical and regional context, that must include each of the ingredients’ journey across the planet. Rice is a staple that was developed from wild grasses. Essential to our bodies, salt is available on land and sea. Human desire for things sweet is easily satisfied by honey that was initially harvested from wild bee hives. Pork, is a major source of protein and is currently the most widely eaten meat worldwide, however in Australia, (and a growing number of other countries), chicken is the most widely consumed. As a versatile food, the tomato is used in many cuisine’s around the world. Chillies provide taste and heat that have become synonymous with curries and salsas and cacao is essential to chocolate making. The Seven Culinary Wonders of the World provides rich and diverse stories that surround these ingredients and presents them in a number of traditional and innovative recipes. Line and pencil drawings illustrate sections of the book, which includes a comprehensive index.
You can preview here: Seven Culinary Wonders of theWorld
Of course not everyone has the opportunity to travel far from home but in a country rich in cultural diversity, Australia provides many opportunities for exploring world cuisines. Flavours of Australia by Smudge Publishing includes indigenous ingredients, local produce and over 500 pages of stories and recipes from iconic venues that have helped develop the unique cuisine we enjoy. Attractively photographed, you can take a peek here: Flavours of Australia
I have just taken a quick culinary tour of world cuisine and am fascinated about the similarities and differences in food use and culture, highlighted by this quick romp of the 641.59s. Of course, there are many ways to explore world cuisines throughout the 641s, if you wish to drill down to individual countries, but I do warn you – don’t do it on an empty stomach!