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

The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof
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's review
Mar 29, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: travel, cookbooks
Read from February 21 to March 27, 2011

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 Dwight and Stevie better, meet Miss Pat and Martin and Jamie and Seacat and Moses Jr & Sr. Aside from Guadaloupe, everywhere they visited sounded wonderful, and very much worth visiting. Many of the recipes sounded delicious, and are going to be added into my collection. I appreciate that in this book the recipes are often listed with possible North American ingredient substitutions, or ideas on where to find items that can't be substituted. I have no plan to start cooking conch/ lambi any time soon, but it's still interesting to hear about.
I found it slightly humorous that Ann, due to her Jewish heritage, doesn't eat pork, but absolutely scarfs down any seafood offered...but neither ingredient is kosher. I guess we all internalize our heritages in different ways. Steve, meanwhile, sounds like a human vacuum cleaner. It's always nice to have an appreciative audience when cooking.
The other thing I really appreciated about this book was how much I learned. I read most travel books to not only hear about new areas, and vicariously experience them, but also to learn, about culture and history and geography and such. And I was just surprised by the end of this book how MUCH I'd learned. So much information about nuts and spices especially. I now know why cashews always come shelled and roasted at the store (their shells are toxic.), that allspice is just one spice (although it smells like a combination), that cocoa and vanilla both need to be fermented before they get the taste we love, etc.
I really do recommend this book--have done so already with several friends. It's fun, interesting, educational, and sounds delicious!

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