International Cookbook of Life-Cycle Celebrations. By Lois Sinaiko Webb, Lindsay Grace Cardella, and Jeanne Jacob. 2nd Ed. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2018. 768 p. Acid-free $105 (ISBN 978-1-61069-015-7). E-book Available (978-1-61069-016-4), call for pricing.

The first edition of this book was published in 2000, under the name Multi-cultural Cookbook of Life-Cycle Celebrations. The first edition had one author, (Webb) but the new edition has added two more authors. Webb died in 2012, and the new edition is dedicated to her. The preface does not say why the new authors felt a new edition was necessary, but perhaps it was in honor of the original author. The preface does state that there are a few new recipes and a couple new countries that are covered in the second edition.

There is not much that is noticeably different in the second edition. The term life-cycle to describe celebrations is meant to mean milestones, such as birth, marriage, death. The table of contents is rearranged, although the arrangement is confusing in both editions. It would make more sense to this reviewer to have it by continent/region and then alphabetically by country. Instead the table of contents is by continent (Africa) and then by region (North Africa, West Africa) or by region (Asia and South Pacific) and country (Bhutan, Australia). For some reason Mexico moved from being under North America in the first edition to being under Central America in the second edition. The United States is the only country that is divided by culture, in this case, Acadian, African American, and Amish.

After the table of contents, there is a section called “Getting Started.” This section seems to be geared toward children who have never cooked. For example, one tip is “don’t cook alone, have adult help.” Since the original author also wrote a cookbook geared towards students (The Multicultural Cookbook for Students), it’s possible this is a carryover from that book, but it seems out of place in this volume.

Each initial continent or region listed has an introduction. Each country also has an introduction about each life-cycle celebration. For example, under Latin America, Ecuador, there is a brief history of the country along with a description of Andean and Catholic wedding ceremonies. Most recipes also have a description of the celebration where the food is eaten. The recipes are easy to follow and include a list of equipment that is needed to make the food. For more unusual ingredients, there is a suggestion within the recipe on where it may be found. For example, ground dried shrimp is available at Asian food stores. Spot checking several countries between the editions, it seems some recipes were kept, and some were swapped out. A handful of countries that did not have recipes in the first edition (Kuwait, Oman) now have a couple listed.

The volume ends with a bibliography that has more entries than the first edition and an extensive index. The cost of the second edition is over $100, which seems steep for basically a cookbook. If a library already has the first edition, there really is no reason to purchase the second as there is barely any new text information and only some new recipes.—Stacey Marien, Acquisitions Librarian, American University, Washington, DC


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