Pros: Beautiful photography, extensive ingredient list
Cons: Poor recipes, some "how to" sections have small thumbnail photos.
So many cooking ingredients and so little time for a cook, isn’t that the case? It seems just about the time you master one ingredient there is a new recipe that calls for something you have only seen on Iron Chef. Never fear, DK’s “The Illustrated cook’s book of ingredients” is a great reference to look up that mystifying ingredient. It is fun, informative and most all it has what everyone loves in a cookbook, pictures.
DK books are truly wonderful because their main component is an abundant supply of excellent photography. Something I find most cooks enjoy when it comes to cookbooks. A picture is after all worth a thousand words. Although this book has numerous recipes, to call this a cookbook would be a stretch. While each section does have recipes that accompany the over 2,500 ingredients, many of them are mere side bars. Although the recipes don’t seem very useful they can help point in you in the right direction on how a particular dish is prepared in the classic manner depending on its origin.
Each section begins with buy, store, prepare, and cook. Depending on what section you are in these beginning texts seem more useful than others. The meat and poultry cooking charts are extensive and useful where as the shellfish cooking section seems sparse with little detail. While all of the sections (Fish & Seafood, Meat, Vegetables, Herbs, Nuts & Seeds, Spices, Dairy & Eggs, Fruits, Grains, Rice, Pasta & Noodles, Oils, Vinegars & Flavorings) are fascinating certain areas are just more fun. The Fish & Shellfish and the Dairy & Eggs sections alone make the book worth the investment. The dairy section has a great collection of world cheeses along with useful descriptions of the various types of milks (13 in total), yogurts and creams.
One drawback is that many ingredients probably won’t apply to your part of the world. In my case I will rarely if ever find Kangaroo, Andouillette (French sausages made of pork or veal tripe and intestines), or pink dragon fruit (a beautiful cactus fruit from Central America) at my local or specialty market. Regardless if I ever do I will know how to buy, store, prepare and cook them. Don’t let that stop you this is a great book that would make an excellent gift for any chef or food lover. If you have never enjoyed a DK book before you will love the photos.