We aren't sure what we like best in the exuberant One World Kids Cookbook. It could be the recipes, gathered from around the world and geared to youngsters. It could be the photographs illustrating the recipes step by step, each photo a shot of children cooking, their faces locked in concentration or flush with joy as they present their finished dish. It could be that we like the underlying philosophy that teaching children to cook is important to the development of a happy and healthy life style that will accompany the children into their maturity. It could be that in a rapidly globalizing world, we feel it necessary to open new vistas for our children. Through cooking they learn that "foreign" is no longer so foreign, but a next-door neighbor, or a friend across an ocean. All of these elements are present when children take to the kitchen, but they are merely having fun. Is there anyone among us who does not have childhood memories of family bonding in the kitchen? The memory of licking the back of a mixing spoon is buried in so many of us that it is a mass memory, one that nurtures us even as we become adults.
This is a joyful book, but one with a serious intent. Ferran Adrià, whose restaurant elBulli may be the most influential in the world, writes in the introduction, "We are living the contradiction that too much prosperity is leading us to a lower quality of life. That is why I always like to insist that investing in healthy food is the best investment we can make for ourselves, for our families and for the future. Only in this way will our youth and children truly know what well-being and quality of life mean."
The recipes are gleaned from around the world, and chosen with an eye to adults cooking with kids. Nineteen countries are represented in all, and the global span extends from northernmost Russia to steamy Brazil in the south with stops along the way in China, India, the Caribbean, Mexico, the Middle East and Africa. None of the recipes burden the pantry by requiring the acquisition of exotic ingredients. Each recipe has notes about the culture represented. As one example, the notes on China inform that Ice cream was a Chinese invention, as was tea. It tells kids that the Chinese regarded knives and forks as weapons, and chose to eat with gentler chopsticks, that a traditional Chinese greeting is "have you eaten?" Should you make the Chinese dish, provide chopsticks. Though you may finally reach for a fork, have fun with the chopsticks. There will be laughter at the table, and a memory created that will be recalled with smiles.
Among the diverse recipes, all sure to be popular with the kids, you will find lamb kebabs from Iran and lamb in Shepherd's Pie from England. There are simple rice dishes such as Jollof Rice from Ghana, Fish Cakes with Rice and Beans from Jamaica, Chicken and Spinach Curry served on Basmati Rice from India. There is a Wholesome Salad from Russia, a Feta Salad with Tzadziki from Greece, Stuffed Sweet Potato with Green Salad from New Zealand. There are Chicken Fajitas from Mexico, Jambalaya with Chicken from the Untied States. Discover Macaroni Pie with Mixed Salad from Trinidad and Tobago, or Couscous with Chickpeas and Peppers from Morocco. Because kids love them, and they are the easiest way to get fruit and vegetables into a healthy eating lifestyle, there are recipes for ten smoothies.
Eat well, be in the kitchen with your kids and forge memories that will enrich both adult and young lives.