[Sca-cooks] Christmas stuff....

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 28 10:39:48 PST 2009

>  Actually, i don't own any of Julia Child's cookbooks. Heck, i own few
>  Western cookbooks at all. My first cookbooks were Indian, Persian,
>  Turkish, Greek, Mexican, and Chinese. From there i expanded into
>  Japanese, more Middle Eastern (as in Southwest Asia), and Southeast
>  Asian. Then North Africa (Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco),
>  Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Now Medieval...
>  --
>  Someone sometimes called Urtatim

Sandra replied:
>This is undoubtedly an unreasonable request, but you know so much more
>than I do! I am very interested in non-Western cookery, but don't know
>enough about any of the cultures to know a good cookbook from an
>overly-"adapted to Western kitchens" one. Sometimes it's clear (e.g.,
>when they say it's adapted and it uses boxed mixes as ingredients), but
>often I have no idea. Can you help?

Well, it really depends on the cookbook, the author, when it was 
written, when it was published, etc. It will also depend on your own 
access to ingredients, your willingness to try ingredients or 
combinations that may seem, well, foreign :-) and prep and cooking 
techniques that are unfamiliar.

Recipes are adapted for various reasons. Here are a few that have 
crossed my mind...

One is inaccessibility of authentic ingredients. This is less of a 
problem today, with shopping on the internet and perhaps less 
xenophobia in US communities, but we still can't get everything, 
especially certain fresh ingredients (here in California we can get 
an amazing array of fresh ingredients all year, but sometimes one 
needs to know where to look). Second is inaccessibility to authentic 
cooking equipment. Third is willingness to use prep techniques that 
are unfamiliar, time consuming, or complex.

And finally is making recipes suitable for American tastes (I know 
non-USAmericans are on this list, but i can only address well those 
book published in the US, and some published in the UK). As 
non-Western restaurants become more common, much as they may serve 
adapted food, Americans become more comfortable eating dishes that 
are quite different from American ''standards'', so American 
''tastes'' change (we still rarely eat food as chili hot as people do 
in many countries).

More recently written books tend to be more authentic in terms of 
ingredients and taste. And some have nice step by step photos of 
unfamiliar processes.

So, ask and i'll do what i can to help. I'm an amateur myself, but 
having lived in three continents and travelled on four continents, i 
have a little bit of first hand experience with a few non-Western 
Someone sometimes called Urtatim

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