Legacy of Family Recipes from Around the World
By Anne Snape Parsons and Alexandra Greeley
Nothing seems more ingrained into the human psyche as the family meal. These gatherings invoke a nostalgia of the senses: the sight of a grand feast presented on the dinner table, the smell and taste and touch of our favorite foods, the sound of excited family members savoring each dish. They are all a mental scrapbook we keep of our favorite family meals—our Kitchen Memories.
Written by Slow Food advocates Anne Snape Parsons and Alexandra Greeley, Kitchen Memories travels around the globe in search for the everyman’s treasured family recipes. Through dozens of interviews, Parsons and Greeley collected recipes from 25 countries, from the United States to Greece to India to Thailand. The recipes are simple but comforting, and each comes with its own back story, an endearing kitchen-table memory that keeps the dish alive within that particular family.
While some recipes are well-known, like bangers and mash from England, others are unfamiliar, such as kor chruek, sweet and sour pork curry from Cambodia. Kitchen Memories does a good job of offering a bit of food history with each recipe, bringing the reader into the culture of the countries they cover. Unfortunately, the book can only hold so many recipes, and some chapters feel a bit skimpy—the Vietnamese section only contains two recipes.
But the best part about family recipes is that they are meant to inspire as much as they are to reminisce. Fixes and tweaks are always welcome, especially when making a dish your own. Thus, Parson and Greeley end the book with several blank pages instructing readers to “add your own kitchen memories.” It’s an appropriate ending to this charming cookbook.
Reviewed by Nancy Huang
(Updated: 12/02/08 SB)