Book review: America The Cookbook by Gabrielle Langholtz

14 February 2018 by
Book review: America The Cookbook by Gabrielle Langholtz

And on that front, America: The Cookbook does not disappoint. Shredded beef chimichangas, corn dogs, mac and cheese, and Mississippi mud cake have my arteries yearnin' for a fillin'.

But the book goes further than that, and through its 800 recipes it enlightens me to a new kind of American cuisine. There are even dishes that wouldn't go amiss on a healthy eating menu. The mackerel grilled with herbs and lemon from Oregon is dairy and gluten-free, the kalua pork from Hawaii consists of only three ingredients, while the pupusas (corn tortilla) with curtido (cabbage coleslaw) from California is both gluten-free and vegetarian, and the Jamaican plantain chips from Florida are suitable for vegans.

A useful feature of the book is the legend identifying dishes as dairy and gluten-free, one-pot, vegan, vegetarian, less than 30 minutes to make, and those with fewer than five ingredients. Chefs could utilise this to expand their special diet offerings.

For themed events, there's an index listing all the recipes from each state alphabetically. There are also essays on each state by a guest contributor or local chef, including Scott Peacock in Alabama, Gary Paul Nabhan in Arizona, Norman Van Aken in Florida, Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley in Maine, and Danny Meyer in Missouri.

The book's downfall - other than a few editing blips with missing ingredients - is its size. The sheer amount of text and lack of imagery makes it tough to stay interested, and there's minimal explanation as to what dishes are. Without an image or description, I'm going to be very reluctant to Google it to find out what it should look like, let alone cook it.

Overall, the book is true to its subtitle, "a culinary road trip through the 50 states". And with so many recipes jammed in - well, gee-whiz, you get a lot of bang for your buck.

If you liked this you might enjoy

•China: The Cookbook by Kei Lum Chan and Diora Fong Chan

•Spain: The Cookbook by Simone and Inés Ortega

•Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu

America: The Cookbook - by Gabrielle Langholtz (Phaidon Press, £29.95)

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