Passport on a Plate by Diane Simone Vezza
Each chapter starts with an introduction about the country or region with interesting facts and figures. There is some history and geography and explanations about how they cook and why they eat what they eat and how they prepare it. You will learn a lot about each country or region in each chapter.
This is a large book with 160 pages, written for ages 9 and up. Black and white woodblock print illustrations on every page enhance the experience.
Located at the front of the book is a “Note to Parents: Before you and your child start cooking, read this!” This page explains their key or “utensil rating” which helps you to identify the level of difficulty- a four utensil recipe is the most difficult and may involve chopping or deep frying and vigilant adult supervision, while a one utensil recipe can be done by a child with only a little adult help.
The twelve regions or countries in this book are:
10. Middle East
Some interesting facts we learned:
• Africans speak over 2000 languages and dialects
• Chili peppers are a very popular ingredient in Caribbean cooking, also curry, pineapple, coconut milk and bananas
• Each of the four areas of China (north, south, east and west) has its own cooking style
• Bread is a specialty of France; some bakers even make short loaves especially for children. A popular type is the baguette which are about two feet long and are baked fresh every day
• In Germany the biggest meal of the day is eaten at noon. Baked desserts are never served after a meal, instead they are served in the late afternoon
• India has many spices: cinnamon, cloves, pepper, saffron and ginger. They prefer to buy their spices whole and grind them by hand.
• Italy is a peninsula and is shaped like a boot. In the different areas of Italy there are many different kinds of cooking, but seafood is plentiful all over because it is surrounded by water.
• Japanese cooking is an art, they believe their food should be pretty to look at but taste good also. There are four major islands, but no Japanese meal is complete without small bowls of rice.
• Mexican cooking varies from region to region, but corn is used all over Mexico. Merienda is tea time, which begins at six o’clock in the evening. This is when they enjoy hot chocolate and small cakes.
• The Middle East is comprised of five areas: the Near East, the Arab region, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and Israel and is a blend of cultures or a melting pot of cuisine
• For centuries many foods and food customs have been brought to Russia from other places. Bread is an important and Russia has been called the “breadbasket of Europe”.
• China and Thailand have greatly influenced Vietnamese cooking. From the Chinese they learned how to use chopsticks and from Thailand they learned to use special seasonings such as basil, coriander, ginger, garlic, lemon grass, mint and fiery hot chili peppers.
I checked this book out of my local library when my grandchildren were coming for a visit. It was great fun and educational while we enjoyed time with each other we also learned a lot and enjoyed eating our creations. Keep the map or globe handy to look up the different countries.
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