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Kim WB

Time Life "Foods of the World" series

170 posts in this topic

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 By now, it's a real historical document, I suppose.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.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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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 (log)

Please visit my new blog, Roadfoodie.

There's driving, and then there's Driving.

The chronicles of a food-obsessed traveler: her exploits, meals, and musings along the highways of America and beyond.

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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.

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.

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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!

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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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!

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!

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.)


Please visit my new blog, Roadfoodie.

There's driving, and then there's Driving.

The chronicles of a food-obsessed traveler: her exploits, meals, and musings along the highways of America and beyond.

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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?

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.

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!!

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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: ).

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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'?

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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.

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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.

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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.


We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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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.

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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.)

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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.

"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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.....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.)

loiosh, the US edition of the Spicy Acorn Squash recipe, American volume, lists ‘acorn squash’ and ‘bacon’.

What a trip down memory lane! I started and fortunately completed the T-L series by subscription in the late sixties and learned so much. I’ve been dragging out and dusting off my favorites to reread - Vienna, British Isles, Germany, India, Middle Eastern.

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For those wanting a complete list, go back and look at post #52. It looks pretty complete to me, and lists 27 books.

I'm all excited because my mother finally parted with her set when I visited her at Christmastime. She's been kind of difficult about that kind of thing in the past, and I've worried that the TL books could become victim to one of her whims, and end up at a tag sale somewhere. I'm very relieved to have them in my possession, although there are less than a dozen. Now I have a new project: collecting the whole set! I'm happy to know about the Good Cook series. Another project.

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The Good Cook/Techniques and Recipes series is usually considered to have 28 volumes. However, there are five additional volumes that were not published in the United States.

They are: Confectionery, Patisserie, Biscuits, Game, and Offal. The cover page reads Time-Life Books-Amsterdam. Copyright is 1981. The ISBN on one of them is 7054 0611 3.

I haven't posted pictures in forever, but I'll try to review the instructions and post some soon.


Carpe Carp: Seize that fish!

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I love the Foods of the World series. My mother ordered them when I was a child, and I remember poring over them as they arrived and for years afterward. Two years ago, I accepted a position as a culinary teacher at a high school tech center. Shortly afterwards, my mother gifted me with the set. There were a few missing books, which I quickly replaced, and they definitely show their age, but now rest in my classroom library. My students use them as part of their research for their end of year project. They have to research, plan, prepare, and serve a meal from a specific country or region of the U.S. They come in very handy for this project.

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Oh how exciting... I have parts of this series too. My mother was getting them (as someone upthread mentioned) once a month. There have been many times that I've referred back to these books for inspiration!


Peter: You're a spy

Harry: I'm not a spy, I'm a shepherd

Peter: Ah! You're a shepherd's pie!

- The Goons

live well, laugh often, love much

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The Good Cook/Techniques and Recipes series is usually considered to have 28 volumes. However, there are five additional volumes that were not published in the United States.

They are: Confectionery, Patisserie, Biscuits, Game, and Offal. The cover page reads Time-Life Books-Amsterdam. Copyright is 1981. The ISBN on one of them is 7054 0611 3.

I haven't posted pictures in forever, but I'll try to review the instructions and post some soon.

An entire book on biscuits? That I would like to see (or does it mean "cakes," as it sometimes does?). Would also like to see the patisserie book. I still have about 6 or 7 volumes in my cookbook collection.

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The only volume I have is Italy. I love it and wish I had more countries. However the complete The Good Cook series I bought on subsciption, one of which I was working from tonight.

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The Good Cook/Techniques and Recipes series is usually considered to have 28 volumes. However, there are five additional volumes that were not published in the United States.

They are: Confectionery, Patisserie, Biscuits, Game, and Offal. The cover page reads Time-Life Books-Amsterdam. Copyright is 1981. The ISBN on one of them is 7054 0611 3.

I haven't posted pictures in forever, but I'll try to review the instructions and post some soon.

An entire book on biscuits? That I would like to see (or does it mean "cakes," as it sometimes does?). Would also like to see the patisserie book. I still have about 6 or 7 volumes in my cookbook collection.
I think "biscuits" in this case means what we in the States call "cookies."

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And I think "Offal" is what in my set is "Variety Meats". Likewise, "Confectionery" is probably "Candy". "Patisserie" could be "Pies & Pastries" (or it could, I suppose, be "Cakes"). I can't match up anything with "Game" however. The mystery remains.

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No, "Offal" is not "Variety Meats". And "Confectionery" is definitely not Candy. The mystery remains only until I can take some photos small enough to upload. :blink:


Carpe Carp: Seize that fish!

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