Saturday, October 10, 2020

From Dill to Dracula: A Romanian Food & Folklore Cookbook


From Dill to Dracula is a culinary and cultural homage to Romanian food and folklore curated by A.M. Ruggirello. Due out 10th Nov 2020, it's 262 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

Roughly 20% of the content is used to provide a nice capsule introduction to the culture, attractions, folklore, and history of Romania. The photography is attractive and well done. I've wanted to visit the area for a long time and I liked looking at the photos of the Danube, churches, markets, and mountain castles of the area. Throughout the book, the author has included keys for extra info: Romanian language/words, folklore/culture, and food facts about specific dishes or and drinks. Admittedly, the inclusion of Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) - including a shiver-inducing period woodcut - was a little weird for a cookbook, but he's confined to the folklore/history part of the book, and he's pretty famous as far as Romanian history goes, so it doesn't detract from the overall experience in my opinion.

The recipes themselves are arranged thematically: bread & soup, vegetables, meat, sweets, and drinks. Each recipe contains an introduction with some background explanations, yields, ingredients listed bullet style in a sidebar (American standard measures, no metric equivalents), and step by step instructions. Many recipes also contain alternative presentations or extra serving info. The nutritional info is not included. The emphasis is on simple ingredients, prepared well, with lots of root vegetables, meat, and grain ingredients. There are some ingredients (surprisingly not many) which may be somewhat challenging for readers to find outside of large metropolitan areas with access to ethnic/specialty groceries. The author has included an appendix with an abbreviated list of grocers who carry Romanian and Easten European food and drinks, including online retailers. There is also an index in Romanian and English. 

The photography is unusually good for this volume. All (or nearly all) of the recipes are illustrated and the serving photos are beautifully presented and attractive. Graphically the book is easy to read with a nice layout and good contrast and typesetting. 

This would make a superlative gift for a cooking fan, as well as a nice choice for library, school, or similar. 

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

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