Thursday, January 1, 2015

Book Review: Junk Food Fast Food Health Food

Happy New Year, Gentle Readers! (No, no computer center is open. I scheduled this one in advance.)

Book Review: Junk Food Fast Food Health Food
Author: Lila Perl
Date: 1980
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin / Clarion
ISBN: 0-395-29108-9
Length: 180 pages
Illustrations: line drawings
Quote: “The making of junk food may reach back almost to the dawn of farming.”
Lila Perl researched American eating patterns in order to write “social history cookbooks.” Her discussion of contemporary food trends begins with historical background. Then there’s a detailed discussion of food processing and additives; then, by way of balance, a discussion of silly “health food” fads and some of their possible dangers. Finally, Perl provides recipes for thirty natural homemade dishes, including juice drinks, yogurt dips, vegetable soups, meat dishes, pasta, pastry, and home-baked bread.
Junk Food Fast Food Health Food was written to appeal to middle school students. Home-baked bread? Why not? Children whose elders bake bread usually want to bake their own bread too. What kid can resist the messy hands-on appeal of kneading dough? It’s a good idea for a successful grown-up baker to watch that a ten-year-old’s first few batches of dough are kneaded to the right consistency, but nothing about kneading dough and shoving it into the oven is necessarily too heavy, or too dangerous, for even a six-year-old. Children’s baking adventures usually begin with simpler things like cookies, corn pone, and biscuits, and it might have been nice if this book had offered more recipes in that category, but the local library should have other books that fill in the gaps.

Despite the author’s parental voice and a vocabulary meant to be accessible to the determined fourth grade student, this is not a first book about cooking, either. This one is for kids who are already competent in the kitchen, who know how to toast bread, toss salad, and make fudge.

Unfortunately, in between the time this review was written and the time it appeared here, Lila Perl left the realm where Fair Trade Book royalties on the sale of this book would be useful to her. I still have to charge $5 for the book + $5 for shipping if you buy it online.