You wouldn’t know this by looking at me – not even by speaking to me – but I grew up far away from the comforts of Melbourne. For the first seven years of my life, my family lived in Tbilisi, Georgia, part of the former Soviet Union.
When I was about five, my brother Stan went on a trip to Switzerland and came back to Tbilisi, having spent much of his souvenir budget on two of the strangest things I’d ever seen. One was greenish-yellow and curved like a crescent moon; the other, brown, a little smaller than the size of a tennis ball and just as furry. My family sat around our dining room table, mesmerised and full of curiosity, as my mum carefully sliced the two objects into thin slivers, so that we could each have a piece. …
… With food, as in life, it’s all about finding things you like and learning more about them, as well as always being open to new experiences that you might discover you like even more, whether this means trying a new fruit, or cooking a dish you love from scratch.
Ever wondered why eating beetroot makes your wee purple? Or why garlic makes your breath funky? Alice’s Food A-Z has the answers to these and many other food questions. Pitched at young readers, there are facts, recipes and anecdotes. There’s also suggestions about which foods go well with each other and just how to pick the best fruit (eg ripe kiwifruit are a little bit soft and slightly squishy). Each opening is jam-packed with info-bites and photos, word puns, colour splotches and sketches. Watermelon, for example, has 1200 varieties including Japanese square ones! Information is delivered in conversational bites and includes plenty of humour. Headings include: ‘Whys Guy’, ‘Word Wizard’, ‘Miss Z’s ramble’ and ‘Fun Facts’.
Alice’s Food A-Z is bright and colourful and easy to read. Information is presented in small bites, providing facts and more but also allowing further research should readers want to learn more. There’s a contents page at the front and a recipe index at the back. Alice Zaslavsky was a MasterChef contestant and now hosts TV quiz show, ‘Kitchen Whiz’. Alice brings the traditions of her Georgian family, mixes them with contemporary recipes and tastes and presents the lot as a huge, take what you want, multi-coloured feast. Recommended for primary readers and anyone who ever wondered what a xylocarp is.
Alice’s Food A-Z: Edible Adventures, Alice Zaslavsky Walker Books 2015 ISBN: 978192279388
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller