Book Reviews,  Cookbooks,  Graphic Novels

Book Review: Noodles, Rice, and Everything Spice

Noodles, Rice, and Everything Spice: A Thai Comic Book CookbookNoodles, Rice, and Everything Spice: A Thai Comic Book Cookbook by Christina De Witte
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoy learning about cultures beyond my own, and cooking food from other countries to enjoy and share. I’ve just finished savoring my very first comic cookbook, and what a delight it is! The cookbook is just about as friendly and helpful as it could be, and packs a lot of history, culture, and personal memories into each warm and fuzzy page. I would love to see this cookbook start a trend.

A local farmer’s market carries whole coconuts, but I’ve always felt intimidated by using them in cooking. I appreciated learning more about coconut milk and meat, and how it’s collected. And how charming is it that the first, richest ‘squeeze’ is called the “Head” of coconut milk and the last watery gleanings are called the “Tail”?

Many of the ingredients used in the 50 recipes contained in this comic cookbook aren’t easily found around my neighborhood, but I was cheered to see that the authors not only mention, but encourage the use of canned and bottled sauces, marinades, soup bases and the like. This should guarantee that more people will actually try cooking the dishes.

The section titled “A quick note about…” is misnamed, as it’s really several pages long and gives us a solid overview of commonly used spicing, flavor balances, ingredients, and even serving utensils.

About 40ish pages in, having been well-grounded in Thai food culture, we finally come upon the recipes, beginning with “Snacks and Starters”. All the recipes are accompanied by step-by-step illustrated instructions, even more information about Thai culture, childhood memories, and little tips and tricks from the authors cooking experiences.

The recipes are varied, and there’s going to be something in the collection to appeal to every palate. There’s extensive coverage of the different types of curries that are so popular in Thai cuisine. I could tell that the goal of that section was to demystify cooking with curry. If curries are intimidating to you, this will arm you with enough information and assurance to prod you towards cooking curry dishes yourself.

‘Desserts and Drinks’ is a sweet treat in itself, filled with more history lessons and personal memories from the authors. There’s a good handful of complex, average, and simple recipes. I am going to try making Khai Waan (Sweet Egg) this afternoon, since I have all the ingredients (there’s only four, and one is water!) and the instructions are very simple.

‘Staples and Accompaniments’ is very helpful for cooks wanting to stock their kitchens with ingredients for Thai food. You’ll also learn about good side dishes to support the main dish you’ve chosen to cook.

If a cookbook could become a gesture, “Noodles, Rice, and Everything Nice” would be a warm hug. Pick up a copy and gather your family to create your own new taste treats and lasting memories.

My thanks to authors Christina de Witte and Mallika Kauppinen, Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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