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Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia [4 Volumes]


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Going out for Ethiopian, Argentine, or Malaysian food-or some other international cuisine-may be all the rage these days, but understanding the world's food cultures goes far beyond sampling the fare of the latest "exotic" restaurant. For example, learning the history behind the eating of tahricht (oven-baked sheep offal) among the Berber peoples of northern Africa, or how an average family in the Philippines shops for food, or why Brazilian chefs are focusing more than ever on using culturally important ingredients-all of these are part of understanding global food cultures.

About the Author

Ken Albala is professor of history at the University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA.


Gr 5-8-Incorporating, reworking, and considerably expanding upon the publisher's "Food Culture Around the World" series, this encyclopedia surveys a broad array of national or locally distinctive cuisines, ingredients, food rituals, and food-related activities from an anthropological slant. Each volume covers a region, with contents presented in an alphabetical arrangement-mostly by country, though less-well-defined political units such as Basque territory and the Swahili city-states are covered in separate articles. The United States is discussed over seven entries-six are regional, and there is one piece on Native American foods. Each article opens with a geo-historical overview, then details major foodstuffs, typical cooking practices and meals both at home and (where relevant) in restaurants, festival foods, and the relationship between diet and general health. The articles typically include an inset close-up of a particular family's daily gustatory habits; several small but sharp black-and-white photos; at least one recipe; and leads to further, usually adult-level, information sources. The lack of cross references is exacerbated by a set index capping each volume that offers only spotty analytics beyond general subject entries under rubrics for each country and a uselessly huge list of recipes. Consequently, though there is plenty of information here for both social researchers and young foodies, this set will be best employed in conjunction with a topically organized resource such as Solomon H. Katz's Encyclopedia of Food and Culture (Scribner's, 2003).-John Peters, formerly at New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"Entries are well-written in a concise yet informative language that results in an easy and engaging read. This is aimed at an academic audience but the style would also make this an accessible read to anyone with a general interest in food culture." - Reference Reviews
"Recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates, general readers, and professionals/practitioners." - Choice
"With its geographical structure and consistent formatting, Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia provides a unique perspective on what the world's population eats and why and is recommended for high school, public, and academic libraries." - Booklist, Starred Review
"This is a quality encyclopedia with broad appeal especially for public libraries and undergraduate colleges and universities." - Library Journal

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