In Her Kitchen by Gabriele Galimberti
The author of this book, a photographer, traveled all over the world, sleeping on couches. Starting with the idea of his grandmother and her signature dish, Gabriele Galimberti asked his hosts to introduce him to grandmothers who then prepared their special meals for him. These are the meals they made for celebrations or leisurely dinners with their families.
Each dish is presented in a two page spread, first with a photograph of the chef and her ingredients and then in the final presentation, both artfully arranged. The kitchens are all over the world, including modern kitchens in developed countries as well as some in developing countries. One beautiful woman, for example, was photographed outside with "caterpillars" arranged neatly on a coarse wooden table. The followed two pages include a brief introduction of the woman and a recipe. Sometimes I wish the introductions were a little less sparse. He says, "Cooking with Regina [the woman from Malawi who prepared Caterpillars in Tomato Sauce] was one of the most emotional experiences of my life and changed me forever," but didn't tell us much more than that about his experiences. I can imagine how I might have felt, but that doesn't help me to know Regina or her homeland better.
It would take ingenuity and a lot of internet orders to make every recipe in the book. Iguana and shark are difficult to find in Kansas. The beauty of this book, though, is not in recreating the recipes; it's in glimpsing the universal desire to create something nourishing for those we love, for transforming whatever ingredients are at hand into a meal.
For someone interested in cooking, this book is the kind of living book that could serve as a geography book. While making all of the recipes might be onerous, choosing a select few to delight your own family would be perfect. First on our list: Grace Estibero's Chicken Vindaloo.
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are my own.