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Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods & Recipes of the World


This 4-volumes Encyclopedia set provides comprehensive coverage of the foods and recipes from 70 representative countries and culture groups worldwide -- from Algeria to Zimbabwe. Entries provide 10-15 recipes for each group and include data on the agriculture and dietary habits of each group as well as an overview of each group's nutrition and health. Arranged alphabetically by country, entries also describe both traditional and modern methods of preparation and cooking foods.

For each country/group, the Encyclopedia covers:
• Foods for religious and holiday celebrations
• Foods of the group
• Geographic setting and environment
• History and food
• Mealtime customs
• Politics, economies and nutrition
• And more
Value-added features include lists of sources for further study, including cookbooks and internet sources; measurements and conversion charts; cooking techniques and equipment information; and a general recipe index.

This approach to world cultures through food could have been a major breakthrough for its intended middle-school audience. It has many of the right ingredients, especially its established Junior Worldmark format, where alphabetized country entries are divided into standard subsections covering geography; history; foods (including those of different culture groups); religious and holiday celebrations; mealtime customs; politics, economics, and nutrition; and both print and Web-based resources for further study.
The 70 articles cover nations and culture groups worldwide and offer more than 700 recipes for both traditional and modern dishes. Introductory material addresses basic safety and health issues, defines cooking terminology and procedures, and lists ingredients, with suggestions on how to locate more exotic goods. Unfortunately, the set has several drawbacks. The most noticeable is the lack of color photographs or graphic enhancement. Murky black-and-white pictures accompany the recipes, creating tableaus that are particularly unappetizing. The photos are so grainy that even shots meant to instruct or demonstrate are useless. The recipes themselves are serviceable but unexciting.

Although there is useful information here about food and dietary customs, it is difficult to discern the practical application for the recipes. Are the volumes meant to be used as cookbooks, because middle-school curriculum often rotates students through electives, including foods preparation classes? Are they meant for the social studies classroom, where cooking facilities are rare? If the majority of students will be preparing the dishes at home, as seems likely, wouldn't a loose-leaf binder with easily reproducible pages have made more sense? Considering the intended audience, other user-friendly enhancements, such as consecutive numbering throughout all four volumes instead of a cumbersome volume-page system, would also have been preferable.

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Tags: group, recipes, foods, Encyclopedia, entries, foods, group, Junior, Foods