SPICES OF LIFE: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health

Nina Simonds, Author . Knopf $35 (400p) ISBN 978-0-375-41160-1

For many home chefs, reading through most cookbooks is a bit like perusing some high-end fashion magazine: an exercise in aspiration—you'll never get around to making that Boeuf en Croute, but it's nice to imagine a world in which you would. Then there are cookbooks like this one, which is more like an issue of Self than Vogue : full of straightforward but practical recipes, and peppered with loads of health information. Structurally, the book is rich with material, although somewhat confusing: in addition to chapters organized by theme ("Pleasures from the Garden," "Hearty Stews and Braises"), there's interstitial material from alternative health experts like Andrew Weil, with recipes relating to their medical philosophies. The chapters are creative and useful. Why don't more chefs devote a chapter, as Simonds (A Spoonful of Ginger ) has, to "Appetizers That Can Serve as a Meal"? Mixing Indonesian, French and Italian recipes within one chapter, Simonds displays her wide-ranging professional and personal experience, sharing meals kids will love, like Teriyaki Beef. For those who relish cookbooks for the elegance they promise, Simonds's side notes may seem less than sexy (learning that dill is supposed to cure bad breath somehow makes the dish the note accompanies less appetizing), but for those open to alternative medicine, and curious about international cuisine, this book is uniquely useful, and Simonds's recipes are easy and inviting. (Feb.)

Forecast: Simonds contributes to Gourmet and the New York Times, and is a well-known expert on Asian food and culture. Expect her book to garner reviews and attention, which should yield solid sales.

Reviewed on: 01/03/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 478 pages - 978-0-385-34973-4
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