As you can't have failed to notice, I love globe-cooking and trying out exotic dishes from all over the world. (Check out my country-by-country globecooking recipe index to see where we've eaten so far !) The Madhouse kids aren't always quite so enthusiastic, but they're willing to try some of the tamer, more well-known international dishes. When we received a copy of Around The World With The Ingreedies : A Taste Adventure to review, I knew it would be a big hit because it combines several of our favourite activities : reading, cooking and finding out about the world.
The Ingreedies are a colourful bunch of weird and wonderful foodie explorers who set off on a culinary adventure, to teach kids all about food from all over the world. Along the way, they introduce young readers (and their parents - I've been learning lots too !) to elements of culture, history, science and geography too. It's a very educational book but the imaginative characters make it very appealing to children and they don't even realise they're learning - always the best way !
The colourful, hardback book introduces a number of countries from across the globe - USA, Mexico Brazil in the first section, The Americas; France, The British Isles, Sweden, Italy and Morocco in Europe and the Mediterranean; and Iran, India, China, Thailand and Australia in the final section, Asia and Australia. There's a nice mixture of geographical areas and cooking styles, although I would have liked to see another African country in there with less European influences than Morocco.
The book provides lots of interesting and surprising foodie-themed facts - for example, the biggest ever pumpkin pie, made in Ohio, was 6m wide and weighed as much as a small tractor; Southern Indians eat two big bags of rice each per week; over 200 types of pasta exist; and the combination of tomato, mozzarella and basil on the margherita pizza represents the colours of the Italian flag. It's not just a collection of random trivia though, with the maps offering a general geographical and historical framework that would be a great starting point for school projects.
The Ingreedies characters are always close at hand, injecting humour and cuteness into the mix, that will keep even reluctant readers engaged. As well as being short, the texts are also broken up with oodles of illustrations, making them much less daunting to beginner readers.
It's not just an educational culinary adventure though - the book is also punctuated with recipes to highlight each of the countries that the Ingreedies explore, such as haddock chowder for the USA, Persian Jewelled Rice & Lamb for Iran and Pear Tarte Tatin for France.
The recipes are exotic and fit in well with the countries they represent, but they are also twists on things that even unadventurous kids will have heard of and probably tried, such as pizza, curry and chicken stew. The book was created by a married couple who found that their kids, who were fussy eaters, were much more likely to tuck in if they were involved in the whole food process, from picking recipes and gathering ingredients to prepping and cooking meals.
As I sat reading it with Pierre, he pointed out several of the recipes that he'd like to try out - sweet ones like Brazilian Brigadeiros and Pear Tarte Tatin, but also some of the savoury ones, such as Australian Fusion Burgers, Cheesy Chivey Pie and Thai Rainbow Vegetables. The great thing is, although they are appealing to kids, they are also dishes that the whole family, including the adults, will enjoy eating.
If you're looking for inspiration for Christmas gifts, this is a book that will appeal to any child with a love of learning about the world and a sense of foodie adventure. If you have fussy eaters who turn their noses up at the traditional dishes that you serve, maybe taking them out of their comfort zone and giving them something completely different will be just what is needed to pique their curiosity and get them nibbling, especially with the Ingreedies coming along for the ride, encouraging, reassuring and educating them along the way !
Pierre said that it deserved 5/5 just for the Brazilian brigadeiros !
star rating : 5/5
RRP : £12.95
Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.