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Time Life "Foods of the World" series

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#61 misstenacity

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 01:52 PM

I can only imagine (wistfully) the difference in my palate now had my parents subscribed to the Foods of the World series instead of World Book....

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#62 achevres

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 09:20 AM

I just got the whole set on ebay--$200 + $24 shipping. It works out to about $8.29 per country. I have always wanted these, and have this thread to thank, I think, for another cookbook purchase :rolleyes: . My stepmother (a great cook) had these. I learned to cook with her. I'll deal with my DH later...more the space issue than the money, although we have the space. Only my egullet colleagues understand the cookbook obsession. :laugh:

#63 SethG

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 07:48 AM

A question: Did the books in the Time-Life Good Cook series come with spiral recipe booklets, or did they come just as hardcover volumes?
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#64 Dianne

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 08:41 AM

Each book came as a set of a hard cover "travel " book and a spiral bound recipe book with all the recipes to be found in the large book plus others only mentioned in the text of the main book. I have them all, happily, and a couple of supplements that are small soft cover booklets.

#65 chezcherie

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 01:56 PM

Just got gifted with about 40 volumes. haven't even looked in the boxes yet, but i'm hoping to spend a rainy weekend poring over them....where should i start? do you have the whole set? (how many volumes in the "whole set"?) i've heard and read that folks really prize these, so i'm excited to know what's great. thanks!
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#66 Carrot Top

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 02:22 PM

You are very lucky!

My particular favorites in that series are the one on Vienna's Empire and the one on Russia and the one that combines four countries in an unusual grouping (my own books are in an unpacked box at the moment so can not exactly remember) that might be Switzerland, Turkey, Armenia and another.

Very lucky.

There are forty weekends there in that box, I think. :wink:

#67 Steven Blaski

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 02:59 PM

with about 40 volumes. haven't even looked in the boxes yet, but i'm hoping to spend a rainy weekend poring over them....where should i start? do you have the whole set? (how many volumes in the "whole set"?) i've heard and read that folks really prize these, so i'm excited to know what's great. thanks!

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One of the books in the series you might want to beware of is "The Cooking of Provincial France," compiled by the late Michael Field. In Julia Child's biography is chronicled the story of how she -- who served as a consulant on the project -- and MFK Fisher -- who wrote the introduction, were both rather appalled to have anything to do with the book. It was Field's first book and he apparently knew little at that time about the topic. Many of the recipes are bastardized versions from Julia's own "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Later, Craig Claiborne savaged the volume in a NYT review.

I've collected a few of the books in that series over the years but oddly enough, I find that the only volume I can now locate is .... "The Cooking of Provincial France." :wacko:

Another series that I do possess in its entirety is Time-Life's later "The Good Cook," overseen by Richard Olney. These single-subject books (Beef, Cakes, Soups, etc.) have stood the test of time well.

#68 Pan

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 04:41 PM

I just misread this as "Foods of the World Series," and was thinking "Well, you could have hot dogs..." :laugh:

OK, carry on. :hmmm:

#69 chezcherie

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 05:30 PM

I just misread this as "Foods of the World Series," and was thinking "Well, you could have hot dogs..." :laugh:

OK, carry on. :hmmm:

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:laugh: :laugh: :raz:
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#70 bloviatrix

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 06:03 PM

You are very lucky!

My particular favorites in that series are the one on Vienna's Empire and the one on Russia and the one that combines four countries in an unusual grouping (my own books are in an unpacked box at the moment so can not exactly remember) that might be Switzerland, Turkey, Armenia and another.

Very lucky.

There are forty weekends there in that box, I think.  :wink:

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You're thinking of A Quintet of Cuisines which includes the cooking of Switzerland, BeNeLux, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and North Africa.

Edited by bloviatrix, 15 November 2005 - 06:05 PM.

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#71 highchef

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 06:13 PM

I have Time-Life's Foods of the world and the good cook series. I must get back to them soon. Any wonderful things that you've discovered in them that I must not miss?

#72 Carrot Top

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 06:29 PM

You're thinking of A Quintet of Cuisines which includes the cooking of Switzerland, BeNeLux, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and North Africa.

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Yes, that's the one. Great book! (Said almost twenty years after I first read it :shock: :sad: :laugh: )

#73 Carrot Top

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 06:33 PM

I have Time-Life's Foods of the world and the good cook series. I must get back to them soon. Any wonderful things that you've discovered in them that I must not miss?

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There is a fantastic herbed chicken salad in the "Good Cook" series book on salads. Almost totally green with herbs. Served on bibb lettuce with black bread to go with it? Yum.

The linzertorte and the dobostorte recipes in the "Foods of the World" series from "Viennas Empire" are also excellent.

#74 MicBacchus

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 04:11 PM

My dear husband (because he did this, he deserves more than a DH!) got me the entire set from eBay for Mother's Day. The condition was that I had to cook something from each volume :laugh: . So inspirational!! But does anyone do what I do --think about the people in the pictures and won what happened to them? Am I thinking too much?!
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#75 therese

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 04:58 PM

But does anyone do what I do --think about the people in the pictures and won what happened to them?  Am I thinking too much?!

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One of the French ones features a family preparing and eating (I believe) pot au feu. The little girl in the picture is Alexandra Boulat, daughter of Pierre and Annie Boulat.

At least I think it's the same people.
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#76 Pontormo

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 06:58 PM

Wow! This topic is nostalgia city!

Just about everyone in my family was a good cook when I was growing up and cookbooks were virtually non-existent. The only real one we had at home was a tattered all-purpose volume from the CIA written for the home cook, which meant housewife, really, in those days.

But then came the Time-Life series! It was glamor, shelved far from the kitchen with all the other serial books, The Family of Man, When The World Was Young, poetry and art. My first serious cooking was done from its pages when my grandmother made the trip all the way out to Indiana: Fricasse de Poulet a l'Ancienne.

I picked up several of the spiral-bound recipe collections for .50 each in at a public library sale during a summer vacation, including the one on Middle Eastern cooking and another on Spain and Portugal. However, I was really pleased to find the one devoted to American cooking, published in 1968. By now, it's a real historical document, I suppose. I picked it up because the glory of the fried chicken remains a vivid memory.
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#77 Brigit Binns

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 08:33 PM

For me, The Good Cook series also came monthly, by subscription. I lived in England then, and later discovered that there was a separate UK series, subtly different from the US books. I have doubles (UK & US versions) for the important subjects like Beef & Veal, Poultry, Pork, etc. It taught me to cook and is still the reference I go to when I need serious information or even inspiration. Trussing a chicken became a breeze via the photos. Jeremiah Tower assisted Richard Olney developing part of the series and the recipes are great; although some are unuseable they are always full of inspiration. But the photographs are the true treasure trove.
The TL Foods of the World were a gift - the volumes and spirals that were missing from my original collection have been added through Janet Jarvits and various sources over the years, and I think I'm now complete. They have been an absolutely invaluable reference in my recipe-writing work.

How valuable are these series of books? I have moved them, all of them, from New York to England to Spain to Venice Beach and now to the Hudson Valley. I've now been without them (in storage for 8 months while waiting for my house to be built), and reading this thread has made me miss them most desperately!!

Best recipe: In The Good Cook Pork book: skewered, seasoned pork chunks are alternated with bacon squares and garlic-oil-drizzled bread cubes, then grilled until the pork, bacon, and croutons are golden, and served over shredded lettuce tossed with a light lemon vinaigrette. A twenty-year favorite!

No serious cookbook collection is complete without these gems! Forgive anything that seems dated and cherish the whole, beautiful, rich and culture-laden picture.

Edited by Brigit Binns, 17 November 2005 - 08:39 PM.

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#78 artisan02

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 09:06 PM

How valuable are these series of books? I have moved them, all of them, from New York to England to Spain to Venice Beach and now to the Hudson Valley. I've now been without them (in storage for 8 months while waiting for my house to be built), and reading this thread has made me miss them most desperately!!

No serious cookbook collection is complete without these gems! Forgive anything that seems dated and cherish the whole, beautiful, rich and culture-laden picture.

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I have the whole Foods of the World series: started getting it when I was in high school back in the later 60's. I learned so very, very much from those volumes and they opened up a whole new world for a southern girl (me) who had limited exposure to foods other than the southern food with which she was raised. When I went away to nursing school, I carried the little spiral bound books with me, and read them over and over. I didn't have much of a place to cook at school, but even so they nourished me. And about 10 years later, when I first became a traveling nurse, I took the little booklets to Alaska with me, and I again was nourished on them. I cooked some wonderful foods from those, and occasionally I will still go back and make something from those volumes.

Ingredients I only read about, are now much more available to me, and sometimes I will go back and find a recipe and make it with the now available ingredients instead of whatever I used to substiute for them back in those early years.

And when The Good Cook series started coming out, I got those also. I missed a few volumes in that series somehow, and I have been gradually picking up the remaining volumes at thrift stores, etc. I think I am missing only 1 or 2 volumes of that now, like the Preserving volume.

And like you, my collection is in storage and has been for about 2 1/2 years. I miss them terribly, and I can't wait to revisit them when I get them all out of storage sometime next year.

#79 Steven Blaski

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 02:21 PM

Best recipe: In The Good Cook Pork book: skewered, seasoned pork chunks are alternated with bacon squares and garlic-oil-drizzled bread cubes, then grilled until the pork, bacon, and croutons are golden, and served over shredded lettuce tossed with a light lemon vinaigrette. A twenty-year favorite!

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Brigit, I looked at that recipe after you mentioned it -- it's called "Pork Tenderloin Grilled on the Skewer" and is from Elizabeth David (originally in her "Spices" book) and it calls for salt pork. You mentioned you use bacon; do you use regular, sliced bacon, or what? The recipe previous to David's is from Ada Boni for basically the same thing--"Grilled Skewered Pork Loin or 'Lombello' Arrosto"--and she uses prosciutto, which would probably be tasty in David's version too. Mmmmm ... Bacon, salt pork, prosciutto--I'm getting hungry!

#80 Brigit Binns

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 03:12 PM


Best recipe: In The Good Cook Pork book: skewered, seasoned pork chunks are alternated with bacon squares and garlic-oil-drizzled bread cubes, then grilled until the pork, bacon, and croutons are golden, and served over shredded lettuce tossed with a light lemon vinaigrette. A twenty-year favorite!

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Brigit, I looked at that recipe after you mentioned it -- it's called "Pork Tenderloin Grilled on the Skewer" and is from Elizabeth David (originally in her "Spices" book) and it calls for salt pork. You mentioned you use bacon; do you use regular, sliced bacon, or what? The recipe previous to David's is from Ada Boni for basically the same thing--"Grilled Skewered Pork Loin or 'Lombello' Arrosto"--and she uses prosciutto, which would probably be tasty in David's version too. Mmmmm ... Bacon, salt pork, prosciutto--I'm getting hungry!

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Steven, I used green bacon (cured but not smoked, much like salt pork) when I lived in England, but smoked bacon is great too. It's just a stronger flavor. I'd get hold of the thickest-cut, applewoood-smoked bacon (or just supermarket bacon, for that matter) and give it a go. One bit of advice learned through many makings: cut the cubes of bread slightly smaller than the dimensions of the pork cubes so that the pork rests on the grill surface and the bread doesn't quite touch. then the croutons come out golden instead of blackened. MMMMM. Can't wait to get into the new kitchen next week and COOK again after 8 months in storage and living with friends!!!! (Very, very nice friends.)
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#81 Steven Blaski

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 09:20 PM

Thanks for the tips, Brigit!

Congrats on the new kitchen. Happy cooking!

#82 highchef

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 09:44 AM

I have Time-Life's Foods of the world and the good cook series. I must get back to them soon. Any wonderful things that you've discovered in them that I must not miss?

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There is a fantastic herbed chicken salad in the "Good Cook" series book on salads. Almost totally green with herbs. Served on bibb lettuce with black bread to go with it? Yum.

The linzertorte and the dobostorte recipes in the "Foods of the World" series from "Viennas Empire" are also excellent.

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I actually tried to make the dobostorte once, a long time ago when living in a walk up in center city philly with a cranky stove/oven and about 3' total of work room. Those were the days. Do not remember how it turned out...will have to get the book out and see if it jars my memory.
You know, your salad suggestion and the pork skewers together sound like a really nice weekend meal. Thanks.
I took out the candy making in Good Cooks and was wowed, once again, how detailed and educational these books are. I made caramel yesterday for turtles, and made fondant a while back. I'm going to play with the fondant today, there are a lot of interesting ideas for it in this book.
I've also made petit fours from the cake book for wedding showers. They're beautiful and you can't beat the instructions. Always a big hit, since everyone is used to that type of thing being ordered from a bakery it gives a lot of recognition to the cook!!

#83 Carrot Top

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 10:17 AM

Yes, you can't beat the instructions in that set of books (the Good Cook). To me, it was a surprise to discover that fact, for the series was so low-key. Low-key but rather full of lots of great stuff, and some not-so-simple stuff. No hoopla, no hollerin' about how fantastic it was. It just *was*. A good thing. (Ouch. I almost wanted to erase that last line for fear of sounding Martha-ish but what the heck. It *was* and is a good thing. :biggrin: :wink: ).

#84 project

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 03:45 PM

Yes, about 35 years ago, when Time-Life first offered their
<i>Foods of the World</i> series by subscription, I signed up.
The <i>editions</i> kept coming, and I got a dozen or so.
<br><br>
In part the books are much like travelogues and intended to
be, say, like <i>Life</i> magazine, for light entertainment
while flipping through the pages, looking at the pictures, in
a comfortable chair in a cozy room next to a fire, sipping on
herbal tea or some such and getting a vicarious escapist
fantasy experience (VEFE) of enjoying the foods of the world.
To me, this travelogue aspect of the books seriously displaced
important information, documentation, and instruction on the
cooking itself.
<br><br>
Some of the people associated with the books had world-class
backgrounds in cooking; the basic quality of the recipes is
(for recipes in cooking, not for information in, say,
mathematics, physical science, engineering, or medicine) quite
high; there really is some good material in the books. Since
it has been 35 years or so since the books were published,
there are now alternative sources for most of the material.
But, some of the material in the series may be unique or
difficult to find elsewhere, and for this material the series
could be important in a serious collection of books on
cooking.
<br><br>
Many of the dishes in the books are complicated; to use the
books for these dishes, really should already have good
general cooking skills, e.g., in French cooking, and already
be able to get good results quickly on complicated dishes from
relatively sparse instructions.
<br><br>
I would recommend staying with the books that cover geography
from Italy to the Arctic and from Gibraltar to the Urals and to
place less emphasis on the books for other regions.
<br><br>
In the book on Russia, there is a curious recipe for Beef
Stroganoff: Need some really good fresh mushrooms (difficult
to find in 1970; easy to find now), a lot of nice yellow globe
onions, some powdered mustard, a lot of sour cream, and some
filet mignon cut like matchsticks. Right: No stock. It's
definitely not a beef stew! Due mostly to the (rather
extravagant) use of filet mignon, the actual cooking is really
fast. It tastes good, looks good, is relatively easy to get
right after just a few trials, is surprisingly good for how
simple it is, and would make a spectacular show dish for doing
the last steps in front of guests.
<br><br>
There is a Black Forest Cherry Cake (<i>Schartzwälder Kirsch
Torte</i>) recipe that is difficult to make but good: The
cake itself has lots of eggs and some powdered cocoa but very
little flour, takes some special handling, but is unusual,
unique or nearly so. Learn how to handle the cake, get a good
source of cherries, learn how to make and handle the
decorative chocolate curls, get some whipped cream that can
hold up, use high quality <i>Kirschwasser,</i> do much of the
work in a cold kitchen (in the winter, with the windows
open!), and can have a winner.
<br><br>
There is a <i>Sacher Torte</i> recipe -- again, lots of eggs,
lots of chocolate, and this time some apricot jam. It's good
and does look a lot like what is currently shown on the Hotel
Sacher Web site.
<br><br>
There are some Hungarian stews and desserts.
<br><br>
The book taught me how to make puffy cheese, orange, and
chocolate souffles.
<br><br>
I believe that the chicken stock recipe is from P. Franey.
<br><br>
For the cooking of the US, those parts of the series can be
absurd and laughable for people in the US! Maybe the books on
the US would look good in Europe and Asia, in which case we
might suspect that the books on the cooking of Europe and Asia
could look absurd and laughable to people in those areas!
<br><br>
In particular, for the cooking of China, it seems to me the
subject is so intricate, huge, different, and distant from
Western cooking and culture that there was little hope, too
little, that the Time-Life team could do anything very useful.
<br><br>
One important alternative source of information on cooking is
eG: E.g., the lessons by W. K. Leung (hzrt8w) on Chinese
cooking likely already have more and better photography of
information, documentation, and instruction on cooking than
all the photographs in all the books in that Time-Life series.

What would be the right food and wine to go with
R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

#85 loiosh

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 12:38 AM

You folks out there have been talking up the "Foods of the World" series for an age, but I've resisted starting a collection for ages. However, a 3-ring binder of the recipe booklets fell into my hands Christmas Eve. I figured I could always gift it to someone on the forum, but instead, it ended up being the start of my collection. I found four more volumes at my favourite bookshop in Dunedin, New Zealand, and have ordered a few more, which just arrived this arvo.

A few questions, though:

- How many volumes exist in total? I have 13 currently.
- Were the recipe booklets for the second go-round of volumes ever issued in the 3-ring binder format, or were they just spiralbound?
- Are the British/Commonwealth editions different from the American ones? I have a mix of both at present.
- Which volume is your favourite? I've learnt heaps from the Japan one, and 'Quintet of Cuisines' is cool.
- Which recipes would you particularly recommend?

These books have just blown away any expectations I had previously held for them. The writing is excellent and the recipes seem pretty authentic considering the time period. I'm looking forward to the thrill of the chase in finding the other volumes.

#86 Shalmanese

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 12:56 AM

I currently have 6 in my collection:

American
Chinese
French
British
Italian
Wines * Spirits

I got most of them off ebay and another few off a 2nd hand bookstore in newtown. But they do tend to be rare. All of my recipe books are spiral bound.

Can you tell me what your fav bookshop in Dunedin is? Is it the one near the university? Which ones do you have? I think my favourite one is the British one, full of 1960's artery clogging, solid british food.
PS: I am a guy.

#87 Brad Ballinger

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 08:36 AM

I inherited the following from my father (he passed away in 1982):

Chinese
Middle Eastern
Latin American
Provincial France
Classic French
Italy
Quintet of Cuisines
Germany
African
Japan
American
American Southern Style
Vienna's Empire
India
Russian
Spain
British Isles
Scandanavia
Wines and Spirits

What I am missing, however, is the supplemental book of recipes. So the only dishes I can attempt to make are the one for which the recipe is included in the regional book. And that's only about one-fifth of the total.
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#88 Meez

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 12:38 PM

I think there were 27 total, and I seem to recall a few extras that came out in the early 70s. Saveur just had an article written by a guy who worked on the first edition. I've had good luck on e-bay, but the prices can vary, from a few dollars each to upwards of $200+ for a complete set. I have about half of them, and I think it's fun to collect them a little at a time, but I'm afraid that the Saveur article might increase their demand for a while.

As far as I know, the supplemental recipe books were only spiral bound, but I can not speak to a difference between the British and American versions.

It is hard to pick out a favorite. My parents had the set, so I read through them growing up. I learned about clambakes from the American Northeast one, and thought that was just the coolest thing. I probably like the Provincial France one the best.

Good hunting.

#89 loiosh

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 03:34 PM

Answering one of my own questions:

I've just been reading the American volume, and I really, really doubt that the original has got 'petrol' in it. Also, can someone with the US printing check the acorn squash recipe? In mine they've substituted 'yellow custard marrows' and use 'streaky bacon'. (In Australia, we can get acorn squashes sometimes, but they're not as common as Kent or Jap pumpkins.)

#90 loiosh

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 08:31 PM

Can you tell me what your fav bookshop in Dunedin is? Is it the one near the university? Which ones do you have? I think my favourite one is the British one, full of 1960's artery clogging, solid british food.

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"Scribes" near the uni, just back of the Cargills motel. They also had a first edition Patrick O'Brian novel, but I didn't happen to have $600 in loose change.... :) As an aside, "A Cow Called Berta" in Dunedin is pretty good if you happen to be down that way....not overly fussy food, and they do a great rosti.

Here's my list:

- Looseleaf binder with large-format recipe booklets for provincial France, American south, Italy, American, Spain/Portugal, Great West, Middle East, New England, Germany, Eastern Heartland, Russia, and Northwest

(The binder is really neat, because the top half of the cover folds down to make a little stand for it while you are cooking.)

- Scandinavia
- Spain/Portugal
- Germany
- Latin American
- Wine & Spirits
- British
- Caribbean
- Italy
- India
- Japan
- China
- Quintet of Cuisines
- American

One of my favourite things about this series is the photography, done before the current fashion for extreme depth-of-field and excessive lighting in food photography.





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