The Cook's Tales: Origins of Famous Foods and Recipes

Lee Edwards Benning, Author Globe Pequot Press $14.95 (241p) ISBN 978-0-87106-229-1
``The small white sac between the lobster's eyes is the stomach, called the `lady,' and contains the lobster's teeth.'' That is just one snippet of information in a book that well earns its subtitle. Entries range from apple to zuppa; research appears solid. The author is by education a home economist and by application an excellent culinary scholar. (Her bibliography runs for nine pages.) Under ``K is for Kosher,'' for instance, we learn that ``the dietary laws may not have been meant to promulgate good health, but that doesn't mean that Jews didn't ascribe certain health benefits to different foods. For example, eggs, fish, wine, milk, cheese and fat meat are supposed to increase sexual potency, while salt and barley are said to diminish it.'' Each section contains recipes, often original to Benning. She contends that one, Alaska Bake, culled from Mrs. S. T. Rorer's The Philadelphia Cookbook of 1886, proves that Baked Alaska originated in America. Reading Benning is rather like dipping into a can of peanuts: one entry leads to another. And another. Illustrated. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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