Saturday, July 17, 2021

What's the Difference?: Recreational Culinary Reference for the Curious and Confused


What's the Difference? is a really useful cooking and ingredient reference by Brette Warshaw. Released 6th June 2021 by Harper Collins on their Harper Wave imprint, it's 240 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately; it makes it so easy to find information with the search function. 

My maternal grandmother used to tell a story from my mom's youth where she had sent her to the grocery store to get cabbage and my mum (not being particularly motivated to learn to do kitchen/"women's" stuff - it was the 60s), came home with a head of iceberg lettuce instead. My grandmother was astounded, but honestly, there are so many similar things about which I would not have a clue. I can't reliably identify more than a couple types of mushrooms in the grocery store, can't definitely tell the difference between a yam and a sweet potato (or taro), don't know the different cuts of beef, don't think I could tell the difference between bologna and mortadella, and so on. This is the book for those of us who wonder about those things. It's also a great reference to have around in case a last minute ingredient substitution needs to be made.

The book is arranged alphabetically from active dry yeast to wine and includes a useful selection of culinary knowledge, some of which was hitherto quite arcane and confusing to me (did I know the difference between appetizers, canap├ęs, and hors d’oeuvres? I did not). I couldn't have explained the difference between different beers or wines either. I'm still not a sommelier, but at least I have access to a basic reference to avoid some of the bigger pitfalls. 

Five stars. I read this one from cover to cover and really enjoyed it. Most readers will likely skip around to salient info as and when needed. This would make a good selection for home or public library acquisition, or for gift giving to cookbook loving friends. 

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


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