October 09, 2011

101 Dishes to Eat Before You Die by Stefan Gates

I love books about food and especially those that explore interesting dishes. So when you set something out before me that says its full of fantastic things you should eat before you die I get pretty excited. But then I read the book, and I was note quite as excited anymore.

This book was broken into several sections. They include Perfect, Spectacular, Expensive, Restaurant Classics, International Classics, Comfort Foods, Wild, From the Sea, From the Field, and Afters. Obviously these titles make it hard to tell what exactly the chapters are about for the most part. These sections can include several different things. For example the perfect are just dishes that the author really seems to like and are generally simple in nature such as Tokyo Sushi. When moving on to Spectacular such dishes as Pig's Feet might be on the menu. Expensive includes things like fancy Tuna and gold wrapped food (no taste but it is decadent). International Classics one can pretty much guess, Tandoori Chicken rates high. Comfort food has your classic mac and cheese. The most interesting part of the book is the chapter Wild. Here are some strange things like Cane Rat and a Yak's "insert anatomy part I can't type on here). From the Sea is of course all about seafood while From the Field is all about vegetables. And then comes dessert in afters.

Each chapter is accompanied by a general overview of all the food, plus in some cases the recipe and a brief description of each dish. He tells you why he thinks it should be in the book and where/when/what/who/etc. he ate it with. He also suggests an alcohol pairing with each and every dish. Now normally when a book includes recipes, I hate to review it until I've tried some of them out. But in this case I bought the book not expecting it to be a cookbook, and a good 3/4 of the recipes are way too expensive or unobtainable for me to make. Should I ever decide to test my culinary skills on this book though, rest assured I will note my experience here.

The reason I think this book is so average is that half of these dishes I really couldn't figure out why they were there. Some of them are so general (Mac & Cheese, sushi, etc) that while I think everybody should appreciate the yumminess of them, it just doesn't seem like one of those 101 things that you should eat before you die. I expected it to be a more unique book and the only chapter that really takes that leap is the Wild chapter. That whole chapter is kind of what I thought the book should be like.

Not a bad book, and its got some well done pictures. It's an interesting read but I'd take it out from the library before I would buy it again. I don't think its one of those books deserving of a permanent position on the home bookshelf.

101 Dishes to Eat Before You Die
Copyright 2009
255 pages

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