★★★★ Famous Dishes from Around the World by Moonstone Press is a hefty tome of thirty thoughtfully assembled recipes from countries scattered all across the globe, including Shepherd’s Pie from the United Kingdom, Fish Curry from India, and Borscht from Russia. The recipes are instantly recognizable, giving equal stage time to both familiar favorites (like American Chili) and crowd-pleasers alike. After all, what dinner guest wouldn’t instantly be won over by a well-prepared French Ratatouille, or a Spanish Paella? Each recipe is presented across a two-page spread, with full instructions in both English and Spanish; accompanying notes and pointers add further flavor on almost every page.
Cooking and sharing meals together in the twenty-first century is seldom an easy task. Between all of the competing claims on our time—not to mention our attention—it’s safe to assume that most dinners, even among family, are hurried affairs with little fanfare. What books like Famous Dishes seek to do is to pepper in a little more humanity to our meal-making. The recipes here are accessible, yet impressive; inexpensive, yet satisfying. The book’s editors recognize that life in the kitchen, and in the American home, has changed greatly since the majority of these dishes were first invented—and it will likely change again before too long. This is the sort of cookbook that places a greater emphasis on healthy living than on constantly trying to one up each other. Each recipe can be prepared at home for $18.00 or less, which is hopefully incentive enough to convince the average American family to dine in and spend a little more time getting to know the loved ones in our lives.