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The Spice Necklace: A Food-Lover's Caribbean Adventure

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  653 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
A follow-up to the national bestseller An Embarrassment of Mangoes, Ann Vanderhoof and her husband navigate the Caribbean on a sailboat, discovering local culture in each tiny port, and collecting sumptuous original recipes along the way.

Spices and herbs are the heart and soul of Caribbean cooking, adding more to the pleasures of the table here than perhaps anywhere else.
Hardcover, 459 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Doubleday Canada (first published January 1st 2010)
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Jun 05, 2010 Lex rated it really liked it
This is a perfect summertime read. The author has a real gift for capturing the feel of tropical places, and made me long for the food and sights of Grenada and Trinidad (places I knew very little about until reading this book). I did skim over some of the bits about rum and drinking-- the book should really called the Food AND Drink Lover's Caribbean Adventure-- but food lovers can't miss this book for her loving and reverential representation of the cuisine of the "Spice Necklace" islands. Som ...more
Jul 05, 2010 Nisha rated it it was ok
The Spice Necklace

A Food-Lover's Caribbean Adventure

By Ann Vanderhoof

Doubleday Canada, 459 pages, $33

FOR most of us, our knowledge of spices is confined to little glass bottles sitting in rows in the grocery store.

But Toronto writer Ann Vanderhoof's newest tale of sailing the Caribbean islands brings readers into the world of nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon and the ground it comes from.

Part travel book, part cookbook, The Spice Necklace continues from Vanderhoof's previous effort, 2004's An Embarrassm
Sky Thibedeau
Feb 20, 2012 Sky Thibedeau rated it it was amazing
The `Spice Necklace' is part travelogue, part cookbook, and a joy to read. Anne Vanderhoof and her husband Steve took two years off from the real world to explore the Caribbean on their sailboat the `Receta' (Spanish for `recipe'). Along the way we meet the diverse people, customs, and tastes (especially the tastes) of the Islands from the Dominican Republic south to Trinidad.

The people we meet through Anne's eyes are very friendly and generous. They share their lives, their communities and thei
Sep 28, 2010 Crystal rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks, travel
I loved this book. I think I loved it more than the first book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes. I love Ann and Steve, and think they sound like great fun people, someone with whom I'd want to share dinner and a bottle of wine. And it's their charm that leads them into so many new friendships and adventures, and secures old friendships, in this return to the Caribbean in the good ship Receta.
I was so happy to hear about Dingis again, and to make acquaintance with new friendly faces--to get to know
Amy L. Campbell
Jul 02, 2010 Amy L. Campbell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cooks, travelers, and eaters.
Note: Free review copy received from vendor's booth at ALA 2010.

I wasn't expecting to be so enraptured by this travelogue/recipe book, but Vanderhoof added enough of her interactions with the local people, history, the food and where it came from to keep me from getting bored with one thing or the other. However, like her boat Receta, Vanderhoof knows exactly when her writing needs to change tack and bring it around to a new topic. Readers will be thrilled, but not overwhelmed, with descriptions
Jun 14, 2012 Beth rated it really liked it
The book is about a couple who use their boat to live various months at different Caribbean islands. They explore the islands to find out what spices are used with different recipes and how these have come to the islands. Interestingly enough although the use of hot spices are very common there, these spices are not grown there. They often come from India. The practice of using them was brought with those who emigrated from India. But originally, these spices came to India from South America in ...more
Aug 28, 2010 D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now I wish I'd read this before my vacation to St. Lucia and Grenada (among a handful of other islands) back in January. Despite that, it was nice to be able to return to these places through the pages of a book and relive the short time I spent on those islands. Even though my Caribbean exposure has so far been limited to spending a few hours on each island, thanks to having been on cruise ships, I've fallen for the islands hard and just reading about them left a smile on my face every time I h ...more
Debbie Boucher
May 17, 2013 Debbie Boucher rated it liked it
A parent at school recommended this book to me. I enjoyed the cultural parts about Trinidad and the recipes. In fact, I actually feel inspired to make the trek to the Green Market in Santa Cruz tomorrow (a 40 minute car ride through the windy Northern Range) to find fresher produce than what is available at my neighborhood grocery store. So why didn't I rate this book higher? It glamorizes Trinidad and its food. The reality is most fruit and vegetables sold here have been imported, and that's ev ...more
I enjoyed this one so much. I waited to read this one while on a trip to the Grenandines and Grenada and it was the prefect read. I love to read anything about food and this was perfect. Perhaps it was reading about the food of the area that I was in at that time time, or reading it while sailing and sunning myself, but I loved this one. It was nice to get a history of some food, such as this history of cocoa on Trinidad and Grenada and how it goes from bean form to actual chocolate. I read both ...more
Aug 27, 2010 Beth rated it liked it
This would be more fun and beneficial if a person had Caribbean experience. I have none, yet I enjoyed the travels of this Canadian couple who ditched Toronto for life on their sailboat to learn all they could about food in "the islands". Lots of interesting recipes, although I'll pass on the roasted goat, thank you very much. I learned alot about spices in general, though and the recipes are very unusual in their native capacity!
Wendy Greenberg
Sep 19, 2015 Wendy Greenberg rated it liked it
I loved Ann Vanderhoof's first book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes. This is in a similar vein - more recipes, more Caribbean customs, people, markets and life in the very different islands from St Vincent down to Trinidad. Beautifully atmospheric and a joy for any lover of the Caribbean and any that's me then!
Jan 17, 2017 Amy rated it really liked it
Not as good as I remember her first book and Embarrassment of Mangos, but still an interesting read.
Sep 16, 2016 Cathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
I loved An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by the same author, and I loved this book as well. The reason it took me almost two years to finish the book is that I wanted to savor each chapter as I would the dishes Ann Vanderhoof details in them: slowly, and at my leisure. I found this book best read one chapter (or section) at a time, with plenty of time to devote to what I read. Vanderhoof centers this book firmly on food yet still manages to work in scraps of local color. In thi ...more
Aug 25, 2010 Stacy rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-writing, travel
I received a complimentary copy of this newly published novel, an account of a middle-aged woman who takes off with her husband on a sailboat and cruises the Caribbean, exploring the culture, food and history of the places they encounter. “The Spice Necklace” is actually a second follow-up to her first book “An Embarrassment of Mangoes” which chronicled her first such sailing expedition.

In this volume, Ann returns to visit some old friends, meets many new ones, and shares around 80 recipes for
Aug 05, 2010 May-Ling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foodie
i think i actually give this one 3.5 stars.

i chose a book by its cover with this one, finding it at the library with a bunch of other wanderlust type books. the book chronicles a foodie freelancing couple that buys a boat and sails around the caribbean, eating the whole way. although they had a simple lifestyle, i couldn't get past the whole thing feeling a bit elitist to take so much time off and hang out with people all the time - perhaps i'm just jealous?

i still loved hearing about the carib
Lisa James
May 20, 2012 Lisa James rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, non-fiction, owned
This book certainly works as a stand alone, even though it is actually the second installment of the story, which I didn't realize till I read the back inside cover :) It is a memoir, not a work of fiction, & I am so envious of their travels in the islands :) Makes me want to turn around, sell everything, buy a boat & travel :) It's a heartwarming book, full of fun & laughter. The RECIPES that conclude each chapter mostly look AMAZING!!!!

People that like books about travel will enjoy
May 08, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it
An intriguing combination travel memoir, food book and cookbook. Vanderhoof and her husband have done two major Caribbean tours in their sailboat. After the first two year trip she wrote An Embarrassment of Mangoes. Necklace is full of amusing and fascinating stories and facts. The Saba (say-ba), the smallest country in the Carribean, is known for its 151 proof rum in which many spices have been infused. St. Kits has not enforced a law against having a still since the British left. Ten percent o ...more
If this was a travel log I would give it 2 stars... I biography 2 stars... a cookbook 4 stars.

This book is a little of all of the above and more than a little too long and maybe I have a little jealous streak that also got to me in this book.

It's about a Canadian couple who sail away not once but twice for years at a time to the Caribbean.

Must be nice to be able to drop your life and sail away to "paradise".

They don't do a lot o staying at the finest hotels and eating at the finest places, if an
Riley Vermilya
Jun 09, 2014 Riley Vermilya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a GREAT summer on your hammock read! I loved how this is a travelogue/memoir/cookbook written about a Canadian couple's adventure sailing, hiking through the Caribbean, meeting the natives, eating and cooking their food...added BONUS. The food actually was a conversation starter and helped them form great bonds with the people of the land. I totally dug that.

After cruising through the book and seeing the recipes at the end of each chapter, I found myself wanting to make an attempt at tryin
Nov 25, 2014 Christina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Part travel book, part cookbook. I normally love all things travel and all things food, but this book did NOTHING for me. I read the first 50 pages or so, then from that point just skimmed through the remainder of the book . Its one of those situations where your travel stories seem so much more interesting to you than to everyone else... The author's adventures were, I'm sure fascinating to HER but to me it read like was like viewing hours of someone else's vacation photos lol. I ...more
Feb 02, 2015 Delta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2015
I wasn't totally sure what kind of book this would be, but I really enjoyed reading it. Vanderhoof's description of the local culture was engaging and I often felt like I was traveling the islands with her. I felt the transitions between topics were smooth and the historical points were interesting. At first, the recipes seemed too difficult to make for an inept cook, like me, but after a second read it was obvious that Vanderhoof was destined to make complex recipes sound reasonably simple. Her ...more
Jun 29, 2012 Fran rated it it was amazing
From the moment I opened this book - part travelogue, part cookbook, part memoir - I loved it. As with "An Embarrassment of Mangoes", Ann Vanderhoof delights with evocative writing that draws you in and becomes part of your soul. You feel the heat of the Caribbean sun in your bones, you taste the spicy goodness of the Creole food, you hear the sounds of the steelpan orchestras, just as if you were there with Ann and her husband, Steve, sailing around the islands. Ann is living a life of which mo ...more
Oct 02, 2010 Mary rated it it was amazing
Honestly, I didn't expect this book to be as interesting and funny as it turned out to be. And perhaps it's because I read it in the dead of winter in Montana, that I found it so refreshing and engaging...but I really think it is, all on its own.

I love that there are recipes! Not that I'll ever be able to make them, mind you, but I cherish the idea that if I were ever to obtain plantains that I could whip up some mouth-watering entrees....

I'm glad I bought it, rather than "rented" it from the l
Feb 12, 2011 Merreh65 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book to read chapter by chapter trying some of the recipes as you go along. It gave me great insight into why my son and his wife have stayed in the Caribbean for so long. The life style there is laid back with great emphasis on people, food and community. Ann and her husband were embraced by the locals as their sailed around--they wisely made their interest in local food the stepping stone into each place they visited. Along the way they made lifelong friends. The generosity of people who hav ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Drew rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Foodies
Shelves: beach, nookbook
Overall this book was a very good read. Not only did I buy this for the story but the many recipes included in it. I tried a couple from the author’s first book and they came out great. That being said the book did seem to get a bit repetitive towards the end. Unlike An Embarrassment of Mangos, where in the first book each adventure seemed fresh and fun, Ann and Steve seem to be doing the same thing at each stop. Meet someone, sit in a kitchen for a while it just seemed to wear a bit thin by the ...more
This is the second of Ann's books about her adventures sailing through the Carribeans. Because I had so recently read the first book, I was excpecting the second to be written as well or better. I liked this second book but it just felt like she left out all of the sailing parts and life on the boat and instead focused on cooking on the islands. So, was not what I expected. It felt choppy, in that she would jump from cooking story to cooking story without the adventure between. Very jumbled, esp ...more
Jun 18, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-the-world
Ann Vanderhoof and her husband Steve take long-term journeys on their sailboat Receta around the Eastern Caribbean Islands to learn about the cuisine, particularly the spices. The locals are happy to show how they use the spices, and as a result many friendships are made. We learn about nutmeg and cinnamon, oregano eating goats, Rum, and chocolate tasting. She also includes a plethora of recipes, which I plan to try. There are chapters on Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, and the Dominican ...more
Feb 27, 2016 Pam rated it it was ok
I think if I met this author in person and got to know her, I would not like her. She doesn't even know she is being snobby and condescending.

It might be fun to hear the story from the side of the people she is talking about. She seems to assume they are going to fall down all over themselves to explain things to her..."wash the fish with the lime..." I'd love to hear how THEY tell the story.

And once in a while she throws in the word "shit", like an aging grand-parent who has forgotten social n
Mar 25, 2013 Lynn rated it liked it
3 and 1/2 Stars actually.

This book is a lot of fun to read. Ann and her husband Steve are fortunate enough to be able to chuck their everyday lives and head off for years at a time to sail the Caribbean, getting to know the people, some of the history and local customs, and the food - ah, the food. Having just come back from my first trip to the Dominican Republic (and having learned not a thing about the place except "Ten minutes" there is like ten minutes in football), and with a love of fo
Aug 05, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Loved it. I still think about it nearly every day. I would highly, highly recommend reading An Embarrassment of Mangoes first, otherwise you might not understand the motivation behind Ann and Steve's travels. I inhaled An Embarrassment of Mangoes last summer and was completely engrossed in this sequel. Not only are the descriptions of the islands and their inhabitants fascinating, but the recipes are delicious, and she opened my eyes to many of the islands of the West Indies t ...more
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“Luperón,” Steve says one day early in our stay, “is the only place you have to wash your hands before you pee.” 0 likes
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