Reading Journal: Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook

Source: Joetta Handrich Shlabach, Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook. Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press, 1991.

Style: Global

This cookbook, a project of the Mennonite Central Committee, travels around the world in stories and recipes from the locals. The recipes chosen are frequently centered on themes of sharing food in community, through celebration, rituals, or family dinners. The theme of this cookbook “extending the table,” is a dear one to me personally, as my mom has talked about a habit of her father’s: as he sat outside of their house in the Philippines, he would strike up conversations with strangers passing by, and eventually invite them in for dinner. Offering food to people who come into my home, feels like a moral imperative, passed down to me through my mother’s own habit of feeding me, my sisters, and any friends we might bring home for lunch. This cookbook is peppered with similar stories of hospitality from all over the world; reading them made me realize that my desire to share food with anyone who crosses my threshold is more common than I would have imagined. The recipes in here are simple, given in metric and US units, and often use inexpensive ingredients (no porterhouse for two here!). They educate the reader on spices, traditions, and rituals on every continent and go one step further by also inspiring a desire to share the gift of food with others.

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