Top critical review
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It depends on what you like
on April 24, 2013
When I first saw this title in a book catalog, I was grabbed by the subtitle "the essential reference ..." and thought this was a book I must have. But then I got a grip and asked myself if I really needed yet another cookbook. To answer this question, I checked the book out of the library and looked through it. I decided no, I did not need another cookbook, at least not this one.
The book does in fact have a lot of basic information about cooking techniques and food, but it was nothing that I as an experienced cook did not already know, or did not know where to find in the cookbooks I already have. Moreover, the information part took up only about a quarter of the book; the rest consisted of the recipes. These tended to be rather unusual and eclectic - Braised chile chicken with raisins and almonds, anyone? What about Roasted carrot soup with toasted coconut? If you like such things, this book will certainly help you become a more adventurous cook, as the title promises. But if you're looking for familiar, down-home recipes that won't cause your kids to say "Ee-ew, what's that?" you won't find many of them here. There is, for example, only one recipe for pie. For a cookbook that has a lot of familiar American recipes plus a nice selection of ethnic-style (but not experimental) dishes, and that also has lots of basic information about cooking techniques and foods, a book already on my shelf, namely "The Good Housekeeping Cookbook," 2010 ed., can't be beat.
In conclusion, the basic reference information can be found in many cookbooks, so there's no point in buying it just for the reference part. If you like unusual, experimental dishes, this is a good book for you. However, if you prefer a more familiar cuisine and established recipes, it's probably not worth spending your money on.