Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book Review: Round the World in 80 Dishes

Title: Round the World in 80 Dishes
Author: Lesley Blanch
Date: 1955
Publisher: Gramercy Publishing / Crown / Harper & Row
ISBN: none, but click here to see it on Amazon
Length: 174 pages
Quote: “My book does not aim to turn you from good English food, but rather to offer you a cook’s tour of supplementary dishes.”
This tour starts and ends in Britain. The table of contents lists three Canadian recipes, only two U.S. recipes, and nothing from the Caribbean.
It’s fair to admit that Lesley Blanch’s taste was not mine. Evidently it’s not a popular sort of taste in the U.S. at all. The first recipe that interested me at all appears on page 34, and more as a curiosity than as a treat; in a gluten-free kitchen one automatically dusts the lean meat, which in my kitchen would probably be turkey, with ¼ cup of cornstarch rather than ½ cup flour, and substitutes rice for either the barley or the tarhonyia pasta, but apart from that the recipe involves slowly stewing the meat with onions, tomatoes, bayleaves, garlic, paprika, and dried prunes. Definitely different. And probably very good for the digestion.
A few other quirky recipes from this book: Black coffee with a chocolate bar grated into it. Egg yolks beaten with brown sugar, warmed, then cooled. Potatoes “scalloped” with anchovies and topped with tomato purée rather than cream. Eggs poached in whole tomatoes. Anchovy suce on spaghetti. Spinach in rice cakes. Imam Bayildi—“the religious teacher fainted”—basically stuffed eggplants, or squashes, with more onion and less tomato in proportion to the breadcrumbs and chopped nuts than Americans would expect. Rose-petal jam. Home-fried potatoes seasoned with nutmeg, and topped with warmed honey, with lemon juice squeezed into it. Baked apples stuffed with chopped chicken. Onions, oranges, green peppers,and black olives, eaten as a salad.
Then again, one never knows...the very first odd recipe in this book, “Pain Perdu, or Lost Knights of Windsor,” turns out to  be what Americans know as French Toast. I never liked that either, but many people do. Other formerly exotic dishes in this book include rice pudding, shashlik, risotto, and rice pilaf. If you try some of the more bizarre recipes, you never know; you just might import a new favorite, like pizza, and launch chains of restaurants.

Lesley Blanch, who wrote more exciting books than this one, no longer has any use for a dollar. This web site still has to charge $5 for this book + $5 for shipping. Don't be too hasty to believe you've found a better price online. If you buy a Fair Trade Book from salolianigodagewi @ yahoo.com, we can tuck this one in for only the $5.