Eight Flavors Cookbook Review

Eight Flavors Cookbook Review

Title: Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine
Author: Sarah Lohman
Published: December 6, 2016, Simon & Schuster
No. of Pages: 288
Cover Price: $26.99 Hardcover, $12.99 Kindle

Love history? Love Food? Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine is the book for you. In this book, Sarah Lohman tells the history of eight ingredients that were brought to America from its beginning to present day and have become icons of American cuisine: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha.

The recipes aren’t for your run-of-the-mill dishes that contain these ingredients; rather many of the recipes are historical dishes made modern, and innovative dishes using the eight ingredients. Can you imagine eating Soy Sauce Chocolate Mousse with Fruit Compote? Believe me, it turned out fabulous and all of my tasters loved it. The recipe for Thomas Jefferson’s French Vanilla Ice Cream has been published numerous times over the years, and is still delicious; Lohman has modernized it a bit. There’s also a Garam Masala ice cream that is different, but really good, and will be enjoyed by all who love Indian food.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like garlic? It seems every country has recipes for this delicious vegetable (actually garlic is not only a bulb, but technically a vegetable, and is considered an herb as well because it’s green above ground, and also a spice, according to the blog, To Your Health). Eight Flavors includes an incredibly delicious Garlic Soup that should be eaten with loved ones when one isn’t planning to go anywhere for a couple of days; it’s worth smelling bad because it’s so good. Surprisingly there is even a recipe for a Garlic Carrot Cake. There is also a luscious Thai Omelet doused with sriracha, a newer ingredient that has gained kudos with everyone across America.

Not only is the book a fascinating read, it also contains recipes that turn out picture-perfect and are fairly simple to prepare. The eight flavors covered in this book are definitely not what one would consider all-American, but after reading the book, they do make perfect sense. One portion of the book, which debunks the theory that MSG is bad for you and backs it up with scientific evidence, made me smile, since I like to use it in several of my favorite recipes.

The one drawback to this cookbook is that there are no pictures. I would think, with recipes as mouthwatering as these, that the publishers would insist on including them. History books generally have pictures, and cookbooks generally have pictures, so why not this one? Even without pictures, foodies, cookbook aficionados, and history buffs will definitely want to run out and buy this book. The prose is well-written and fascinating, the recipes are unique and make one want to gather the ingredients and go through every recipe included. To quote Lohman: “The American kitchen is not static; it’s cumulative and it evolves. Ten years ago I had not heard of sriracha, and now it is in every refrigerator I open (at least those stocked by my generation). And in the next decade, or the next century, our cuisine will continue to change. Which means a new flavor will earn a permanent place in America’s hearts and stomachs.”

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this cookbook.

This book may be purchased at Amazon:
Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine

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