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Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach To International Relations Hardcover – August 3, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Based on my own personal experiences with the author's cooking and rapier wit (she once helpfully explained to me the difference between "Northern Alliance" Afghan food and "Taliban" Afghan food), I believe you can safely assume that, in the end, you will be entertained, a little smarter for the effort, and in any event well fed.
The book isn't quite what you'd expect -- rather than being collections of recipes, each chapter is set up with a dinner party menu after the historical sketch of each country. The recipes were picked by the author specifically for their authenticity (her extreme reluctance to include the rather ubiquitous flan in the Cuba section is noted rather humorously) and include appropriate drink selections; the author isn't averse to humor, and it even shows in some of the recipes, going so far to create a frozen dessert for the US chapter called "Vanilla Ice". (In any case, given the subject matter, one might argue that humor is rather necessary to keep from losing your faith in humanity as a whole.)
I don't know at what point "hard-nosed realism" turned into "leftist bias", but this book is most certainly more the former rather than the latter. Both fearless and impeccably appetizing, this book should be high on any foodie's reading list. After all, as Jared Diamond pointed out years ago, food and history are intimately connected, and that history doesn't stop just because it's being made now rather than a century ago.
In the book, author Chris Fair takes a close look at the evil powerhouses in the world (i.e. those countries with the bomb or those who are trying to get it) and humanizes them with an exploration of their cuisine. From the so-called "axis of evil" (Iraq, Iran, North Korea), to nuke-possessing human-rights violators (Israel, India, and Pakistan), to the dashers of democracy (Cuba, Burma, and China), to the Great Satan herself (USA), the reader embarks on a rather peculiar world tour. Fair is unashamedly biased and opinionated, and yet manages to present a balanced perspective on many of these countries. What is extremely helpful is her brief modern histories of each country. Basically she explains why these countries hate the USA and what our past relationship with them has been. So for all of us 30-somethings who were too young to watch the news while, say, the Iran-Contra affair was unraveling, and whose history textbooks and teachers never made it past World War 2 (because what teacher wants to touch Civil Rights and the Vietnam War), these brief histories are the most concise explanations of these events you will have ever heard. One reads of the whole convoluted history of our relationship with Saddam Hussein, how the Taliban got its weapons, and why we let China walk all over us.Read more ›
Wonderful book. And the recipes are really good.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am still reading it. What a great book. Besides having a lot of food info, it really gets into the political climate of each country.Published 17 months ago by Karen Traveler
Love cook books with history of the foods and history of the cultures.Published on July 16, 2014 by GraceEmily
I just loved this cookbook! The author is a hoot, and the recipes are great, too. I'm having an Axis of Evil dinner party next semester using this book!Published on December 26, 2013 by Hope Rose
I really wanted to like this book. I share the author's sentiment that the food of nation is key to understanding it. But I just could not get past the abysmal writing style. Read morePublished on February 3, 2013 by T. Taylor
I had high hopes for this book that I had been waiting to read for some time. Unfortunately, it was extremely disappointing. Read morePublished on January 10, 2012 by RPH80
Author Chris Fair's political views coincide with those of Michael Moore. The administration of George W. Read morePublished on November 14, 2010 by Macondo
This book is a keeper!! I have greatly enjoyed the commentary and the meals. Enjoy!!Published on February 5, 2009 by M. Stacy