Cookbook Is a Feast for the Eyes and the PalateFor some people reading cookbooks is an obsession, serving more than the practical purpose of helping to fill the empty stomach when you have time to prepare food at home. Cookbooks can satisfy an intellectual need no less than scholarly work by a dedicated academic.
But realizing the promise of a cookbook requires the skills of both artist and chemist. Precisely following a recipe to create a perfect dish is the task of a smart chemist. Careful planning, task-oriented dexterity and multiprocessing execution all require timing and sensitivity to temperature and texture. But presentation and an eye for the artistic are equally necessary. A cookbook without good pictures is unsatisfactory or even incomplete because it fails to show the necessary visual presentation, and it doesn't please the reader's imaginary palate.
Cookbooks that merit a place on the coffee table can become bestsellers. But most conceptually well-written cooking tomes end up gathering dust on the bookshelf. They fail to prod the reader into actually walking into a kitchen to start cooking. Instructions are too complicated or hard to follow. Classic recipes are boring. Exotic turns out to be too exotic. When it is time to begin, cooks leave the book behind and return to their existing repertory.
"Dinner with Ambassadors," a compilation of 306 international recipes prepared by ambassadors and their wives from around the world, is a refreshingly appetizing cookbook. It serves both national pride and personal imagination.
The book contains clever, fine food choices for family festivities. Classic and unique national dishes include couscous from Morocco; Peking duck from China; japche, a noodle dish from from Korea; apple strudel from Austria, and gravlax with mustard sauce from Norway. The book also features delightfully unexpected original recipes, such as spicy pumpkin soup with lime juice from the United States, quail with grapes from Italy and limes bursting with coconut from Mexico. You can also be inspired to try exotic dishes guaranteed to taste good, such as prawn sambal from Malaysia; vlaflip, a fruit and custard dessert from the Netherlands, and Cape Town fish cakes from South Africa.
Along with the other contributors, the book's managing director, Christine Bosworth, the wife of Stephen Bosworth, the American ambassador to Korea, has done an excellent job putting together a wonderfully inspiring book. "Dinner With Ambassadors" is full of passion and imagination, and its beautiful photographs are culinary art.
"Dinner with Ambassadors" is published by Hollym, a Korean publisher. The English edition contains 304 pages and costs 50,000 won (the international price is $49.95), and the Korean edition has 328 pages and costs 40,000 won. The author's royalties will go to support Planting Love, a charity foundation for the visually impaired and physically disabled. For information, call Teri Byun at 02-725-2001.
by Ines Cho