Propitious Esculent: The Potato In World History
William Heinemann, Dhs137 Available on Amazon
By now the ‘Animal/Vegetable/Mineral That Changed the World’ format is a well-known construct for authors and publishers. This is not the first book published about the spud’s place in history, yet Reader’s book is a good read. The book traces the tuber’s rise from its humble home in the South American altiplano to official world vegetable-patch domination.
Reader has a breadth of knowledge in subjects as diverse as botany, anthropology, ecology, history and political sociology, so this book goes well beyond the scope of kitchen book. He writes cogently about the post-revolution potato famine of the nascent Soviet Union and about the manner in which science was sacrificed to political doctrine in both the Soviet Union and Mao-era China, resulting in the deaths of millions through famine.
Given the recent increase in food prices, this is a timely book, providing a much-needed perspective on an issue that will always be with us.
Babette de Rozières
Caribbean food lovers often complain about the paucity of good books on the cuisine, and nowhere are the complaints louder than from the Caribbean diaspora where the need to reproduce the taste of home is strongly felt. Creole, by Guadeloupe-born chef Babette de Rozières, should go some way to redressing the balance. This is not is a clichéd jerk chicken and ackee cookbook but a successful exploration of some the region’s strongest ethnic and cultural influences through the food. De Rozières, owner of the popular La Table de Babette in Paris, has compiled an amazing collection of Caribbean-inspired dishes.
The 120-page fish chapter for example, is so comprehensive that it could have been a book on its own. One of this book’s strong points is that most, if not all of the recipes can be easily reproduced in the UAE, as many of the ingredients are either found in good supermarkets or easily substituted. Creole food, De Rozières says, ‘awakens the senses and never leaves you indifferent’ – and neither does this book, with its vibrant and mouthwatering photos that truly capture the colour and excitement of Caribbean food.