Book review: Extending the Table

5 Sep

Imagine a cookbook with recipes and stories from around the world. A book you want to read even when you’re not planning a meal. You can have that book!

With over 300 pages of recipes, Extending the Table is an excellent resource for people who love to explore flavors from around the world. Recipes are uncomplicated, organized by course, and are indexed geographically and by ingredient.

This book stands out in two unique ways. The first is background information and cultural context for each recipe. While I love that cuisines from all over the world are becoming easily available (particularly in American cities – you might have noticed the recent shift in Boston), there is also a tendency to ignore where, why, and when ingredients are used. Plus, you don’t need a masters degree in cultural studies to do five minutes of research. Extending the Table will make you passionate to learn more about the origin of these recipes.

The second reason I love this book is that I never need to buy more than one or two ingredients for these recipes. If you do need to go shopping, the majority of ingredients can be found in your local grocery store.

There are recipes from over 90 countries, ranging from beverages and soups to main dishes and desserts. Although my beloved Scotland is excluded, the huge variety of geographic origins (including many regional American dishes as well) will keep you exploring and cooking for years.

Extending the Table is from World Community Cookbooks, which is supported by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Their website explains that MCC “works alongside local churches and communities in more than 50 countries, including Canada and the United States, to carry out disaster relief, sustainable community development and justice and peace-building work…MCC also seeks to build bridges to connect people and ideas across cultural, political and economic divides.”

In addition to Extending the Table, World Community Cookbooks also includes Simply in Season, Simply in Season Children’s Cookbook, and More-with-Less. I bought Extending the Table from Ten Thousand Villages while I was in college. You should be able to find it at your local library, or you can also buy any of the books here.

Extending the Table, Joetta Handrich Schlabach, Herald Press, 1991.


5 Responses to “Book review: Extending the Table”

  1. Marty Hiller March 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    I love this book. We’ve tried a lot of recipes from it, and have liked all of them so far.

  2. Lena H. October 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    This sounds like something I need to get on my reading list ASAP. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Daniel Edelstein September 19, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    I enjoyed learning that this book was published by the MCC; it brought me back to when I spent an evening in a Mennonite community. While visiting family in upstate New York, I had Christmas dinner and listened to a choral recital of the entirety of Handel’s Messiah with a really nice family. However, and this is not to say that I tout some professorial knowledge of Mennonites, the evening gave me the impression that they are much more insular than to publish such a worldly book! Anyway, thanks for bringing back a good memory and providing a great review of what looks to be a nice addition to my cookbook library.

  4. Elina (Healthy and Sane) September 12, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Sounds like a cool read for sure. I love reading cookbooks like novels; the ones with just recipes and nothing else bore me. Even if the recipes are good, I likely won’t stick around to find out.


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