In the Introduction to ALL AROUND THE WORLD COOKBOOK, author Sheila Lukins writes, “Much of my childhood was spent in awe of the magical songs, stories and mysteriously foods that my grandparents brought with me when they emigrated to America from Russia. My grandmother would tell me wonderful tales about growing up in Kiev, as she nimbly made tiny meat pastries or crepes to be filled with cherries or sweetened cheese mixtures…”
She continues, “I can’t remember which came first, my desire to visit their far away land, or my wish to cook like my grandmother. Throughout the years, these memories blended”.
Thinking back on those times, Ms. Lukins realized that is was then that her book was born. ALL AROUND THE WORLD COOKBOOK, published by Workman, (1994) is a big, thick, wonderful culinary magic carpet ride.
Sheila Lukins lived in Paris by the time she was in her late twenties; later she would form her own catering service which grew into a partnership to open The Silver Palate Specialty food Shop. A line of packaged foods and three cookbooks followed and eventually the Silver Palate business was sold.
Lukins explains how, after a trip to Spain, she was having lunch with her publisher and editor, “waxing ecstatic about tapas bars, olives, and the new influence of Mediterranean cuisine that was taking America by storm” when her publishers proposed to send her “AROUND THE WORLD” to “adopt, assimilate adapt and create” for her next cookbook. (Don’t you just love it?)
Ultimately, Ms. Lukins visited 33 countries over a two year period. She says she sometimes encountered political hot spots, including her first stop, Russia, the home of her grandparents.
I hardly know how to fit this enormous, wonderful book into a brief review—nothing I can say will do it complete justice. I was delighted to find a number of unusual condiments and spices, recipes for preserved lemons and Thai pickled carrots, tomato apricot chutney and salsa…you know how partial I am to “accompaniments”. There is even a recipe for kiwi salsa! (It wasn’t too long ago that most Americans didn’t know what kiwi was – nor did we know, a few decades ago, how diverse “salsa” can be…we’ve come a long way, baby.)
But in case your taste buds lean in another direction, there are hundreds—some four hundred and fifty—of other recipes ranging from angel berry trifle to chicken satay, from tapenades to banana bread, and from Andalusian Steak Rollos (a beef steak with Serrano ham) to Dublin’s corned beef and cabbage.
Sheila Lukins fills the pages of her cookbook, not just with recipes but also with stories and anecdotes, tantalizing bits and pieces of her travels to whet your appetite. She tells, for instance, of marketing in Budapest. Budapest! My paternal grandfather came from Budapest!!
She writes, “Budapest’s Grand Central Market, to my great disappointment, was closed during my visit. This grand iron and red brick structure built in 1895 at the foot of the Liberty Bridge, will be closed for major restoration for several years. But I did find a small cozy makeshift market in some old warehouses where a handful of the vendors had set up shop. I knew I was in the right place when I saw all the dried peppers strung outside the entry way…” (by now—lo these many years later—the Grand Central Market and Liberty Bridge should be back in business!)
Under Island Secrets, Lukins tells us, “In Montego Bay, I spent lots of lunchtimes at the pork pit, sitting with the locals at green picnic tables under palm trees, heavy with ripe coconuts, eating jerk pork and chicken…at this roadside joint (literally) with trucks and buses rattling by, the great Jamaican barbeque was served up in plastic baskets lined with paper. Along with the pork and chicken, I devoured yellow yams roasted in foil and deep fried cornmeal crullers….”
I almost feel like I went along for the ride. ALL AROUND THE WORLD COOKBOOK is the kind of cookbook you will treasure for years to come. It has a delightful easy-to-read and enjoy format and is also a good companion cookbook to Sheila Lukins’ U.S.A. COOKBOOK, published in 1997. A few of my favorite recipes from ALL AROUND THE WORLD COOKBOOK would be Island Grilled Red Snapper, Jerk Pork Ribs Jamaica, the Indonesian Sweet Garlic Sauce and Casbah Carrot Soup from Morocco. This cookbook will surely use up an entire packet of those little square post-its as you choose recipes to try. And, having mentioned Sheila Lukins U.S.A. Cookbook, I’ll have to provide you with a review of that cookbook as well.
Amazon.com has ALL AROUND THE WORLD COOKBOOK priced at $19.99 for a new copy, or starting at one cent for a pre-owned copy, or 99c for a collectible copy. Alibris.com has copies of this cookbook starting at $1.50.
Happy cooking! Even happier cookbook collecting!
Review by Sandra L. Smith