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Children's book author Medear°s has bitten off more than she can chew in trying to cover Africa and the Caribbean as well as early and modern African-American cooking. Simple recipes are nothing special: almond-infused warm milk from Morocco is soothing, but hardly worth the hour necessary to prepare it, and an eggplant dip from Nigeria is piquant, although attempts to grind, as instructed, a teaspoon of sesame seeds and a single clove of garlic in a standard blender are bound to fail. The chapter on ``Slave Kitchens'' provides some of the most interesting fodder for thought with a recipe for fried squirrel. Modern African-American dishes are somewhat characterless in comparison. It is hard to discern any appropriate cultural roots in crab salad with feta dressing and fajitas filled with shellfish. A brief, tacked-on chapter supplies menus and a few dishes for holidays like Juneteenth (June 19, emancipation day in Texas) and Kwanzaa. There are a few cooking faux pas here that simply cannot be ignored: A recipe for black beans and rice calls for undrained canned beans, adding a hefty dose of sodium, and a recipe for Ethiopia's flat injera bread calls for Aunt Jemima's Deluxe Easy Pour Pancake Mix in place of the traditional grain teff; while this may be the way injera is commonly made today, it will strike some readers as a bad ethnic joke. Medear°s dots these pages with mostly banal quotes from well- known African-Americans like Booker T. Washington, Oprah Winfrey, and...herself. A multicultural mess.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 1994

ISBN: 0-525-93834-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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