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The Greatest Dishes!: Around the World in 80 Recipes    by Anya Von Bremzen order for
Greatest Dishes!
by Anya Von Bremzen
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Greatest Dishes! : Around the World in 80 Recipes is a monumental cookbook. Imagine having to keep the list of recipes down to eighty! Anya Von Bremzen is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure magazine, where she writes about restaurants around the world. Wow! What a job. She has won a James Beard award for two of her three previous cookbooks.

I would venture to say this makes her eminently qualified to pick top recipes. In her very interesting Introduction, the author tells us that 'Each of these dishes is a world unto itself, and deserves to be treated as such.' She continues, 'Behind each great dish there is a place, a history, a portrait of a cook, the evolution of a technique ... So along with the dishes you will find their "biographies"; essays on their histories and the origins of their names, quotes from authorities on their preparations, all garnished with my own travel impressions and recollections.' She concludes, 'At the end of the day, the recipes here are as easy or as hard as they need to be great. Once you master a dish and find the ingredients, you will turn to it again and again.'

We begin with Apple Pie. Now, we all have our very own favorite recipe; my chef daughter and I have a running feud over whose apple pie is better (hers is, but don't tell her I said so). But here is one that could top both of ours. And just reading the history of pies (apple in particular) is enough to gear up the taste buds. Ranging from an every day dish like Macaroni and Cheese to Cassoulet or that wonderful French Tarte Tatin, full recipes are included, with just the right hints to make the dish come out as intended. Rice Pudding has always been one of my weaknesses and I found the biography of this dish of bliss fascinating. Must try the recipe. I've never had Ceviche, but have been intrigued about the thought of cooking fish without heat, so this one is a must for me.

Pick up a copy of The Greatest Dishes! and find your own personal favorites. And when you've mastered them all, start in on the unfamiliar recipes. Move out of the box and go for it. Maybe you'll add or change ingredients a bit to make each dish more your own. Whatever. The point is that this is a great book. Don't miss it.

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