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The Edible Atlas


There's something of a trend in book design to create a dust-jacket that unfolds into a poster of the book - and in this case the edible world.

Author Mina Holland is Contributing Editor of Observer Food Monthly magazine, and this is her first book. Styled as a 'book for intrepid cooks' it is aimed at demystifying the flavours and techniques of cookery around the world. It combines anecdotes, recipes, food quotes and deals with Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Americas, north and south.

The notable exception is Terra Incognita, or Australasia which includes some of the Pacific regions, and this is a pity as these cuisines would have added yet another dimension - another few dishes to the table.

Nevertheless, the book has tackled the ambitious task of giving a potted food geography as well as representative recipes for many of the world's major cuisines, some of them not readily available. There's fufu, a pounded yam dish from West Africa, fried whole artichokes from Italy, Vietnam's green papaya salad, Israeli shashuka and much more.

The introductory quote from Laurie Colvin, perhaps best sums up the purpose of this fine and well-researched book: "It is not just the great works of mankind that make a culture. It is the daily things, like what people eat and how they serve it."

- Reviewed by Sally Hammond

The Edible Atlas - aroud the world in 39 cuisines, by Mina Holland, published by Canongate Books Ltd, March 2014, hardcover, ISBN-10: 0857868551, rrp A$35


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