Book Reviews

The Complete Language of Food: A Definitive & Illustrated History

Book by: S. Theresa Dietz

Cover of The Complete Language of Food Book

“In this book, from A-Z are the raw, naturally growing edible ingredients that have been used as food in various kinds of ways for up to thousands of years,” S. Theresa Dietz from The Complete Language of Food: A Definitive & Illustrated History. 

I am big browser of book sections at stores as you never know what you are going to find that will speak to you. Recently in one of my shopping trips I found The Complete Language of Food: A Definitive & Illustrated History. While this isn’t a cookbook in the traditional sense it is a great addition to your home library. Learn more about where the myths, legends and superstitions around our food come from with this book. 

The A to Z

The Complete Language of Food: A Definitive & Illustrated History is broken down into two sections: the A to Z and Culinary Finds Around the World. In the first section, you will find all of the raw ingredients with their descriptions including the scientific names, common names, photo, symbolic meanings, color meanings, component meanings, possible powers, pleasant dreaming, folklore and facts, as well as symbols if any part of the ingredient is toxic or if it is known as a medicinal ingredient. Some ingredients will have all of the sections, and some will not. 

I found all of the information that was shared for each ingredient to be so interesting. Who knew that it is considered lucky to be married under a banana tree or that star anise essential oil may help calm unexplainable feelings and sensations resulting from stress?

Below is a photo of part of the section about avocado. Learning about avocados being added to English in 1696 was so interesting as I don’t remember hearing about avocados until I was at least in high school (and not to date myself but that was the mid ’90s). 

An excerpt from The Complete Language of Food

Culinary Finds Around the World

The second section is Culinary Finds Around the World, and it shares foods that have been passed down from a long time ago. For each food section, the following information is included: food name, common types of this food, symbolic meanings, possible powers, pleasant dreaming, and folklore and facts. 

These foods have been turned into dishes that we have created recipes for and have adapted and shared again and again. Depending on where you are in the world these dishes have drastically different tastes as they have been adapted to fit the cuisines of many cultures across the globe. 

I never knew that Frozen Treats are older than refrigeration, with Alexander the Great, being given credit for the invention of ice cream when he had his jellied concoction chilled in snow. Now one of the most popular desserts across the world, I can’t imagine life without frozen desserts from ice cream to gelato to sorbet to shaved ice to frozen custard there are always so many choices!

The Complete Language of Food: A Definitive & Illustrated History was an unexpected gem in my never-ending search for the best cookbooks and food books. I found myself reading it rather quickly and enjoyed it immensely. There is so much information about the ingredients we use daily that I had no idea about. We can all learn so much from this book. 

I would recommend that everyone have The Complete Language of Food: A Definitive & Illustrated History in their home. It would make a great coffee table book no matter how experienced you are as a home chef.

Have you read The Complete Language of Food: A Definitive & Illustrated History yet? If so, please share below and let me know what you think!

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