Around the World with the Ingreedies: A Taste Adventure by Zoë Bather (@zoebather) and Joe Sharpe (@joesharpe) and illustrated by Chris Dickason (@Dicko_Doodles) opens with an exciting invitation; to hop on board a plane to explore the world, looking for “the most scrumptious, lip-smacking dishes“, discovering “a feast of fascinating facts about the food we eat” along the way.
Our tour guides and fellow explorers include a host of funny, friendly characters, from zen-like Chai (the spice guru), to piratical Melvin (the seafood freak), via rollerskating Lexi (the veggie whizz), not to mention marvellously coiffured Tony (the dairy maestro).
You immediately get a good sense that this atlas-cum-recipe book is going to take us on an enjoyable, energetic trip to new places for everyone’s tastebuds. Our cartoon character companions (older readers may see welcome echoes of the Munch Bunch book characters) guide us across the globe, introducing different locations with brightly coloured, annotated maps, highlighting food specialities in different countries, sneaking in snippets of history, geography, science and broader culture as they do so.
Clearly presented step-by-step recipes accompany each geographical location, using photos to show key stages in the food preparation. They’ve been designed in a way to enable kids of nearly every age to somehow take part in the food prep, and with a mind to creating dishes that whole families will want to eat together.
Most of the recipes are for savoury main courses and are so much more imaginative and exciting than the majority of recipes we’ve seen in cookery books designed for kids, where sweet food dominate, and savoury dishes are often restricted to pasta or pizza. About a third of the recipes don’t involve meat.
Humour, curiosity, surprises and tantalising invitations to try new things fill every page of this wonderful book which I hope will end up splattered with drops of sauce, the odd pages stuck together with stray noodles, hiding crumbs lurking in the spine; if this happens, it means the book is really being used and brought to life as I believe it deserves to be.
As well as trying out some of the recipes in the book (the ‘Iranian Jewelled Rice and Lamb’ was a particular hit), we wanted to find out more about some of the other food mentioned in the maps. Could we find dosas or dill pickles, tambaqui or tamarind?
Travelling the world without leaving your home town is ever easier these days and so we set about exploring world food supermarkets that we could reach on foot or by bus, rather than by plane. A quick google for Asian / African / East European supermarkets brought up lots of leads, and so we plotted a day out on public transport, visiting as many of them as possible. Our challenge was to find at least one item in each food shop that my girls were happy to try (bearing in mind, they are both fussy eaters).
When we explained what we were doing, shop assistants were generally only too pleased to show us specialities or make suggestions of food that they thought the girls might especially enjoy.
The day took us to lots of new parts of town, introduced us to lots of people we might never have met before, and we learned in the process how to say “Thankyou” and “Goodbye” in Mandarin, Igbo and Lithuanian!
Once home with our supplies we started feasting, saving the food wrapping to create our own world supermarket shelves:
Whilst we made our own world supermarket shelves we listened to:
Other activities which might work well alongside reading Around the World with the Ingreedies include:
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by its publisher, Laurence King.