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The Best Recipes in the World
More than 1,000 International Dishes to Cook at Home

by Mark Bittman,

published by Broadway Books

Mr. Bittman has kindly shared these recipes:

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Let us now praise Mark Bittman. His achievements in The Best Recipes in the World are numerous, wide reaching, even spectacular. Bittman has gathered classic recipes from 44 countries, a staggering feat on its own, but he has also cut through the complexity of global cooking, pulling those 1,000 recipes into a coherent whole. The timid can venture new recipes with confidence, while the seasoned cook can explore ever-expanding territory fearlessly. And what may be the most unusual of all cookbook achievements, the book organizes kitchen cabinets. While the uninitiated may find this a unique achievement, a dedicated cook will rejoice to know that cabinets no longer hide prize ingredients in clutter.

Mark Bittman does not like clutter, least of all in recipes. "I don't use two ingredients where one will do," says Bittman. Guided by this simplicity, Bittman has adapted recipes so they represent the country of origin without discouraging the cook who can't find a too-exotic ingredient. His goal is "to find a common, good-tasting version of an authentic dish and to re-create it in ways that do not rob it of its integrity but make it accessible." Bittman is a friend to the home cook.

With his unique intelligence and sense of organization, Bittman, author of the weekly New York Times column aptly called "The Minimalist," states that "ingredients change, but technique does not. It's all basic." With that guiding principle, Bittman has found the commonality in recipes from widely separated countries. Though the book uses traditional chapter divisions, Bittman organizes by discerning the connections between recipes. Placing familiar recipes side by side with the exotic, the familiar shed light on the unfamiliar, bringing the exotic to the doorstep of the home kitchen. For example, the meat chapter is organized by cooking technique. Braised recipes are collected together, whatever the meat or spices used. Dealing with the myriad types of rice, Bittman explains their similarities, how rice with an exotic name behaves as a familiar one, and advises which rice to keep at hand for its versatility.

Bittman gives equal emphasis to European and Asian cuisine. There are easy-to-follow recipes for such delights as Stir-fried Vegetables with Nam Pal from Vietnam, Pad Thai from Thailand, Salmon Teriyaki from Japan, Black Bean and Garlic Sparerib from China, and Tandoori Chicken from India. Spanish, Mexican and Turkish cuisines are equally explored. And with continued simplicity and brevity, Bittman has included explanations of foods, foodstuffs and their uses.

Now, let's talk about the unexpected joy of organized kitchen cabinets. Bittman has a section entitled "The International Pantry" in which he tells us that "a couple dozen ingredients belong in every kitchen all the time, and a few dozen more will allow you to expand your horizons to the ends of the earth." He has composed basic lists broken down by locality - from Africa to Europe to the Americas, to Asia. His recommended ingredients are the ones that will be used and reused. Having them on hand frees the cook to make a stress-free, last minute decision.

To make this book complete, there are more than one hundred line drawings, many instructional, and fifty-two international menus. Many recipes can be made ahead or prepared in under thirty minutes.

Mark Bittman is a friend to the home cook. If only we could get him to write about organizing hall closets.

About the author: Mark Bittman is the author of the Julia Child/IACP award and James Beard award-winning How to Cook Everything, the New York Times column "The Minimalist," the three Minimalist cookbooks. When he's not traveling the globe, he divides his time between New York City, Los Angeles, and Connecticut.


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