700 Foods You Should Try from Around the World by Alexandre Stern, Universe
No matter how you feel about the world “foodie,”you will love this book. It’s a kind of food dictionary you might want to keep around to settle arguments about where is baklava from, what salep is, and who invented peanut butter.
It is a worldwide tour, via a carefully sorted arrangement of ingredients, dishes and drinks that are typical of countries and regions. What is typical you might challenge and who decides? In his introduction, Stern lays out his thoughtfully developed categories, noting right up front that it is a personal selection, but of choices deemed to be representative or palate-expanding. Some countries–France, Japan, China–get their own sections, others are grouped into regions–North Africa vs Sub-Saharan Africa, Spain and Portugal, or Middle East.
In the regions you know, you’ll likely have some quibbles–I think Tomato Soup has been around longer than 1960, and did Frenchmen really bring sourdough to San Francisco? That’s what the internet is for.
In the regions you’ve visited you’ll be delighted to find your discoveries on these pages and ready to return as a more educated eater to try what you’ve missed. For places you’ve never been and barely thought about, your stomach may flip, but you’ll learn history, geography and culture.
Just flipping through the pages, you’ll get a sense of cuisine–the apricots, pistachios, and pomegranates of Iran and the Middle East or the cloves, nutmeg, and coconut of Southeast Asia. And you’ll get a sense of how food travels–baklava appears in Lebanon (but Greece!), mushrooms in France (and Russia), coffee in Ethiopia (and everywhere).
The book ends with a directory of where to get some of these foods–also what the internet is for.