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Culinary Chronicle, The
by: Christine Messer Hausch
Opt Art Lizenz AG 1997, $128.00, Hardbound
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 1998 Issue: 5(1) page(s): 20
Food is culture and this hefty priced four hundred ninety-four page tome, is a first in a series of planned volumes about different ones. Featured is the best of Hong Kong, Morocco, and London with a bonus, a CD-rom titled: Wonders of Hong Kong. Loved the fantastic photos (an understatement), all the food facts, details of restaurants, recipes, and more. Fifteen restaurants are featured in the Hong Kong section, a half dozen more in each of the other two sections; and fifty-three, thirty-two, and thirty-six recipes, respectively, from these selected restaurants. Every one of them is photographed in taste-tempting color, food for the mind.
After reading and reliving wonderful experiences in most restaurants featured in Hong Kong and a few in London, found myself sorry I had not yet set foot in Morocco. I am ready to pack my bags, return and update Hong Kong, revisit London, and hasten to Morocco. The latter clearly has carefully nurtured traditions that need my attention.
This bilingual (German/English) book aims to document food cultures with well-researched articles about regions ready to be discovered afresh. The three heterogeneous places in this first volume celebrate the art of cooking and provide sensual enjoyment and epicurean pleasure.
The Hong Kong segment offers a sense of the 24-hour multi-cultural cooking pot over-flowing with bustling wok kitchens. Restaurants featured in this volume run the gamut from Gaddi's first-class French one in the Peninsula Hotel to Yung Kee's four-story Chinese emporium known world-wide for its Roast Goose. The book does not disappoint and the recipe to make their famous Glazed Roast Goose is there. Making it at home does mean no man-sized stainless steel smoke barrels and no knowledge of the sixteen or more different smoke-producing secret ingredients. C'est la vie!
The menus of the restaurants are creatively presented, as are the kitchens and chefs. Photographs of individual ingredients and dishes are ready to be eaten right off the page. The street scenes are so authentic that steam, seafood, and starch are yours to savor. Some of the recipes are best prepared in a restaurant kitchen, but all can be tried at home. Great results are yours making the Forum Restaurant's Fried Bird's-Nests with Egg White and Hunan Garden's Braised Brisket of Beef.
Though the book is too heavy and too beautiful to cook with, I was not daunted. I photocopied Goose Foie Gras with Ginger Figs and the Iced Mango Dessert. A friend and I were ready to indulge in foods simple and simply expensive. We learned that not all could be made with minimal culinary skill and equipment, that all tastes were terrific, and that we were ready to cook some more.
The 1998 volume witll feature the USA's best with emphases in Califormia, Florida, New Orelans, and Chicago. Enjoy the 1997 volume, cook many of its wonderful recipes, and look forward to the next one wondering, as I do, what restaurants will be chronicled. Any one out there know; if so, advise.