cover image A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible, Health-Giving Recipes from Asian Kitchens

A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible, Health-Giving Recipes from Asian Kitchens

Nina Simonds. Alfred A. Knopf, $30 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-375-40036-0

Diverging from what she believes is the Western tendency to regard food as the ""enemy,"" Asian food authority Simonds (Classic Chinese Cuisine; Asian Noodles) has compiled a cookbook espousing the Asian holistic philosophy of food as a ""nurturing, benevolent friend that maintains and restores health."" Simonds describes the Chinese holistic approach to food and eating as one that is in sync with the seasons, matched to individual body type and specific developmental periods (infancy through mature adulthood). She also explains how the key concepts of yin and yang are applied to achieve dietary balance and harmony. Divided into soups, seafoods, poultry, meats, vegetables and ""neutralizers"" (rice, breads and noodles), each of the 200 recipes contains purported therapeutic properties based on traditional Chinese medicine: Spicy Garlic Lobster is recommended for impotence and improving appetite, and Red-Cooked Lamb with Sweet Potatoes will help with general weakness and anemia. Engaging anecdotes and sidebars spoon-feed nuggets of Chinese holistic wisdom (for example, ginger is believed to rid the body of toxins, and duck dishes are prescribed to alleviate dizziness from hypertension). The last three chapters are devoted specifically to ""food as medicine,"" including immune system-fortifiers tofu and soybeans, therapeutic sweet soups (Steamed Asian Pears with Honey and Almonds, for sore throats) and constitutional tonics (Lotus Root Cooler, for detoxifying the liver). Prescribing recipes for wellness in easily palatable prose, Simonds offers a well-researched and practical guide to holistic cooking (and eating) with sensuous, Eastern flair. (Apr.)