Guide to food is bigger, better

  • By Bill Daley Chicago Tribune
  • Thursday, September 12, 2013 5:17pm
  • Life

“The New Food Lover’s Companion” newest edition means no one need wonder long about what an aamsul is: a dark purple kiwi-size fruit native to western India with a “somewhat fruity” flavor and a “sour, astringent character.” (The sun-dried fruit is used as a substitute for tamarind.)

Aamsul is a new word in the “Companion,” and it kicks off some 7,000 A-to-Z entries that end with a return appearance of zwieback, the dry digestive bread whose name is German for “twice baked.”

With 500 new listings for many international foods, notably Korean, Persian and South American, this fifth edition of the “Companion” ($16.99) is more global than past volumes.

And, with a beefed up section on food labels and more nutrition facts, the 918-page softbound book is also more health-oriented.

“In the United States in particular, we are allowing other cultures to influence what we do,” said author Ron Herbst of Petaluma, Calif.

The “Companion” is often seen as an indispensable source for professionals looking for the definition of an unusual food item or unfamiliar cooking technique, the official spelling of a particular ingredient or how to pronounce the word.

Amateur foodies can use the book in the same way; it’s a great resource for settling bets or deftly answering those whatchamacallit questions that arise.

But the “Companion” goes beyond that, offering conversion tables for temperatures and measurements, meat charts, a pasta glossary, a list of food additives and even blood-alcohol guidelines for men and women.

“It’s a constant battle to keep up,” Herbst said of revising the “Companion.”

He keeps an eye out for trends, such as the growing interest in Korean cuisine, or items chefs are talking about, like finger lime seeds from Australia.

“I tend to run in tangents,” he said. “I’ll find some cheeses not in the book and add them, then I’ll get on an olive kick.”

More in Life

Mukilteo’s Hani Hani scores with the police chief

The Japanese restaurant serves dishes (poke, ramen, grill) inspired by the Hawaiian islands.

‘Coco’ is another eye-popping home run for Pixar/Disney

The animated movie’s a lively, touching tale of honoring family, following dreams.

Beer of the Week: Scuttlebutt’s Barrel-aged Belgian Winter

Made in 2013, the dark strong ale was stowed away in barrels. The brewery tests one each year.

‘Love, Chaos and Dinner’ an Teatro ZinZanni’s original show

The “Parsian cabaret” is a superb circus dinner theater operation in Marymoor Park through April 29.

Heavy Hollywood headlines: Robert Horton’s movies preview

In the midst of all the sexual-misconduct allegations, the holiday film season offers some relief.

Denzel Washington’s remarkable performance isn’t helped by plot

The actor is convincing as an awkward, eccentric lawyer, but unconvincing contrivances pile up.

‘The Breadwinner’ animation is strong, but its story is stilted

The Cartoon Saloon film never lets you forget that you’re here to learn an important lesson.

Pianist Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major on Nov. 26 with the Everett Philharmonic Orchestra.
Young pianist to perform Mozart with Everett Philharmonic

Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will play the piano at the Music for the Imagination concert.

Liz Oyama as Belle, Jimmi Cook as Gaston and John Han as Lefou star in the Edmonds Driftwood Players production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” opening Nov. 24. Magic Photo
In Driftwood’s ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ Belle has girl-power bend

Edmonds Driftwood Players presents Disney’s adaptation of the fair tale Nov. 24 through Dec. 17.

Most Read