A review of the Silk Road Gourmet Cookbook and my choice for the best food and travel cookbook of the year….
The only time I ever review a cookbook is if I like it and think you should all know about it, I don’t throw praise around because it can come back to haunt you which is why book reviews and other blog reccomendations tend to be few and far between on here. For what it’s worth I have been collecting cookery books since I started my career as a chef twenty five years ago and despite having spent an unimaginable amount on them over the years there are very few I would actually consider buying again. That to me is the true test of a product, would you buy it again?
Laura Kelley has written a book I would buy again in an instant, she has written the kind of book I would love to be able to write. Food, travel and all things Asian combine to bring us volume one in a series of books detailing the food, culture and history of this wonderful continent. I have waited a long time for this book, having been a keen follower of Laura’s blog called The Silk Road Gourmet for a long time I knew Laura was capable of producing a book which could put her wonderful writing onto bookshelves around the world. Anyone who has read Laura’s blog will know that she writes with great intelligence, authority and a real love for her subject.
Volume one of the series begins with a part of Asia seldom covered in the mainstream of culinary writing, the West and the South. The journey takes in the countries and cuisines which are steeped in history and whose very traditions have quietly transended into other people’s cultural makeup through centuries of trading and exploration. This book offers a thoughtful, intensely researched insight into the cuisines of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It demonstrates how the spice routes of those earliest of traders helped to shape each countries food and how remarkably similar many of the methods and use of ingredients are.
The choice of dishes is considerable, for the keen amateur cook or the professional chef it offers a new and inspiring diversion from well trodden paths, spice and flavour notes jump out from the pages and transport you to those places we rely on the more dedicated to tell us about. Take Georgia, we are given a brief overview of the main spices and flavours indicitive of the country, fenugreek, saffron, sour cherries, oranges, lemons, savory, allspice, pommegranates and marigold, there are recipes for garam masalas from Pakistan and curry powders from Sri Lanka as well as comparrisons of spice mixes between different countries which show how close our culinary borders actually are.
Take your time with this book, it’s not just a collection of recipes but if it’s a quick dish you are after then each recipe takes between fifteen and thirty minutes to prepare. Go straight to Laura’s own favourites if you can’t decide, meatballs in lemon sauce, lamb chops in sweet and sour pommegranate sauce or orange-chicken koresh with almonds, pistachios, cinnamon and cardamom.
We live in a society which thrives on telling us how crappy everything is so when a piece of work such as this becomes avaliable we should recognise one person’s huge labour of love and commitment to sharing their knowledge with the rest of us. Buy this book.
How to buy The Silk Road Gourmet Cookbook
Avaliable from the end of June 2009 it will be avaliable on the internet through Amazon and Barnes and Noble followed by general release throughout the Summer.
Here are the following ISBN’s:
Soft Cover 9781440143052
E Book 9781440143069
Hard Cover 9781440143076