Odd Book Reviews

by Master Orrick of Romney

The Von Welanty Guide to Ethnic Ingredients. Diane and Paul Von Welanty, (1982) J.P. Archer Inc.

Looking for a good recipe for dried swim bladder, lotus root flour or screwpipe? The Guide to Ethnic Ingredients may be just what you are looking for! This 700+ page volume--divided into sections for Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East--deals in an encyclopediac fashion with ingredients common in cultures other than our own. In each section, ingredients are listed alphabetically (from "Almond, bitter" to "Zweiback" in the European section). Each is defined and its use in its native cuisine is discussed. Instructions for storage and general directions for use are given for all entries, as well as, in most cases, recipes. And how, pray tell, did we ever get along without a recipe for Zulu Mealie Meal Porridge?

One of the editorial policies of Early Period is to encourage the examination of cultures the SCA often overlooks. The African, Asian and Middle Eastern sections can do much to inspire a cook's guild or feastcrat to experiment with cuisines other than those of Western Europe. Alas, most of the ingredients discussed are out-of-period. However, the chance to explore truely untouched cuisines should more than make up for the shortcomings.

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