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International Dictionary of Gastronomy

by: Guido Gomez de Silva

New York NY: Hippocrene Books 2003, $14.95, Paperback
ISBN: 07818-0876-6

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2003 Issue: 10(1) page(s): 21 and 22

Among the six-thousand-five-hundred-plus food terms, this reference belongs in every cook’s kitchen as it has some valuable Chinese food items and is more than a dictionary. Reading it is fun, an indulgence about food and cooking coupled with half dozen or more different dishes from many countries, as they are among its listings. Also valuable is the five language glossary (English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish) and a French-, Dutch-, Italian-, and Spanish-to-English food listings.

Guido Gomez de Silva worked as a UN official in sixty-nine countries and he gathered menus from them for more than fifty years. These are the genesis of this Mexico City resident who has authored other dictionaries.

In this one, there are many good Chinese items appropriately cross-referenced, and a few done poorly. Items such as Sichuan pepper mention its use in five-spice powder, which itself has a good definition of its ingredients, but fails to mention there or elsewhere that it is also known as fagara.

We learn a lot from browsing the many entries, reconfirm much that we know, and delight in this book’s accuracy. Thanks to the folks at Hippocrene who saw to it that there is ample space between entries to make the use of this book an easy read, as well as a fascinating one. And, while there always could be more, we thank the author for what many such volumes omit, an appropriate amount of attention to the food words of Asia.

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