Pocket Dictionary of Ethnic Foodsby Daniel G. Blum
Word Craft Publishing
ISBN 0-9754894-3-7, LCCN 2004106150Soft cover, 224 pages, $9.95
Who hasn’t seen phrases on a restaurant menu that seemed familiar, yet not entirely so. Béarnaise and béchamel are both classic French sauces, but are you sure which one you would want on a steak and which one might be appropriate for seafood?
Marsala is a dark, sweet Italian wine. Masala can be either a spice mixture or a general category of Indian dry curry with a spicy sauce. While they do sound alike, they certainly don’t taste alike.
Pad kana or pad prik? They’re both Thai dishes but which one is likely to require a bottle of Singha to put out the fire?
While dining out can be an exciting adventure, it shouldn’t have to be just because you’re worried that you’ll get stuck with something you didn’t really want. Or, worse yet, that you’ll order for tablemates and have them waiting for you to visit the restroom so that they’ll have opportunity to hide some of your wretched selection in a napkin and insist later that they really did like their dinners.
Daniel Blum’s “Pocket Dictionary of Ethnic Foods” will go a long way to save readers from such disasters. Just about the size of a checkbook, it easily fits into a purse or a jacket pocket and contains 1400 brief definitions. Of course, it could also be useful in the home, but it’s in the restaurant setting that critical mistakes can be made. It saves diners from having to admit they’re not as knowledgeable as they’d like to be in front of difficult waiters. It also allows double checking the explanations given by uninformed waiters who try to bluff their customers.
At ten bucks, this little book is invaluable.
--reviewed by Dan Clarke