Just how does one even begin to write a review of a food encyclopaedia?
Well, how about with the letter “A”. Aardvark
Not was I was expecting, it has to be said. It might be the first word in the dictionary, but it’s hardly the first thing that springs to mind when I think of food.
“How about a nice aardvark sandwich?”
Although The Oxford Companion To Food doesn’t go into too much detail, it does tell me that aardvark apparently tastes of pork. So I’ve learned something right off the bat. Oh, and apparently you can eat bats too. They taste of chicken and are quite popular in Mauritius.
I like this book. I’ve learned two amazing facts even before I’ve got to the the part I came for; Chocolate.
There’s about four pages worth of information on chocolate and as it’s a subject I know a fair bit about, it’s a nice way to judge the book as a whole.
The chocolate entry starts with a few paragraphs on the botany of Theobroma Cacao, before moving on to the history; a subject it covers in significant detail in a small space. There’s a nice explanation of the chocolate making process, and the process for making chocolate from the bean is well covered, as are some common techniques for making filled chocolates and pralines. There are descriptions of chocolate types, moulding, enrobing, couverture, tempering and more. It’s all good solid information – I even learned a few things myself.
I could very easily spend a day lost in The Oxford Companion To Food; flicking to random pages and learning about gallimaufrey, milkfish and khoshab. Its 900 pages are packed with fascinating facts and random information. As someone who got into food via chocolate, it’s a great way to actually figure out what my foodie friends are talking about too.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and read the section on cake. And zwieback.
The Third Edition of The Oxford Companion To Food is published this week RRP £40 and available to buy now Amazon for £26.