Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Book Review: The Spice Necklace

 (This review is also posted on my book blog: QG's Book Reviews.)

Books that combine travel and cooking are great to take with you on vacation. Or to pick up and read when you need a vacation but aren't going anywhere.

Ann Vanderhoof's The Spice Necklace is an excellent example of how to combine these two genres into an entertaining and educational read.

I'm not a big aficianado of Caribbean cooking, despite the fact that I do like hot and spicy food. Vanderhoof's book didn't change my mind and send me out to Whole Foods looking for jerk spice, mangoes, fresh coconuts or plantains so that I could try out some of the recipes she includes in the book. So I can't comment on how the recipes come out. 

However, her memoir of a recent trip around several Caribbean islands included great descriptions of each as well as insight into what is distinctive about each one. She and her husband made friends with islanders on each of their stops and took the time to learn about their lives and participate in their traditions.

The title is meant to remind the reader of the old term for this area of the world: The Spice Islands. Vanderhoof shares the education she gained through her experience about the history and cultivation of their traditional spices such as vanilla, wild oregano, nutmeg and mace, and congo peppers as well as their use in the native cuisine.

All in all, The Spice Necklace is a fun, escapist read that informs as well as entertains. If you try any of the recipes, let me know how you liked them!

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