Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Honey Thief by Najaf Mazari, Robert Hillman

book cover
The Honey Thief
by Najaf Mazari,
Robert Hillman

ISBN-13: 9780670026487
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult
Released: April 18, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
This extraordinary book, derived from the long oral tradition of storytelling in Afghanistan, presents a mesmerizing portrait of a people who triumph with intelligence and humor over the oppression of political dictators and an unforgiving landscape. The Honey Thief reveals an Afghanistan of greater richness and humanity than is conveyed in newspaper headlines.

My Review:
The Honey Thief is a collection of folk lore stories. Some of these short stories are historical tales, others are more moral tales, but all are set in Afghanistan and come from the viewpoint of the Hazara--a minority tribe in Afghanistan. These stories give insight into the mindset and customs of these people along with a history lesson about what they've lived through. May of the stories have a rural setting and give insight into daily rural living throughout their history.

The storyteller, Najaf, understood that Westerners come from a different mindset and explained the differences with gentle humor. I found the tales interesting because they offered a look into a different culture. The recipes at the end are worth reading even if you don't cook. They give insight to the culture and some of the directions were quite funny as you'd never find them in American cookbooks: "...leave them alone for maybe half an hour. Read a book, a good one....a peaceful book" (from page 276).

Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to those who like folk lore and are interested in other cultures.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Prehistoric Cooking by Jacqui Wood

book cover
Prehistoric Cooking
by Jacqui Wood

ISBN-13: 978-0752419435
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Tempus
Released: October 1, 2001

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Goodreads:
Based on experimental archaeology at the author's world-famous research settlement in Cornwall, this book describes the ingredients of prehistoric cooking and the methods of food preparation.

My Review:
Prehistoric Cooking looks at what archaeology can tell us about food in prehistoric Britian. The author initially explained what archaeology has uncovered about food practices in prehistory, hunter-gatherer, bronze, and iron ages. This included types of food and how they got it (gathered wild vs. raised). I like that she doesn't think prehistoric people were stupid just because they didn't have a written history yet.

Next, she talked about the experimental archaeology she's been doing using this knowledge and the knowledge of primitive societies today to uncover likely cooking methods and recipes. She talked some about how the food was actually cooked, but she didn't give the high level of detail I was hoping for. The photographs from some of the demonstrations they've done and of some of the cooking steps for several recipes did help, though. There was enough detail that I think I could make the recipes work successfully with a little experimenting of my own.

About two-thirds of the book was recipes and related cooking methods, and they were divided into the categories: bread; dairy; meat, fish, and vegetable stews; cooking with hot stones; clay-baked foods; salt and the seashore menu; peas, beans, and lentils; herbs and spices; vegetables; yeast, wines, beer, and teas; sweets and puddings. Some of these recipes use plants that don't grow in my section of the world (southern USA), but others did. Though I didn't buy the book for the recipes, I think I'll try a couple of them since she makes it sound fun and do-able.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.