I have been reading entries in Alan Davidson's much lauded encyclopedia of food for eight months now and have been amused, informed and disappointed in almost equal measure. I have found that especially when AD addresses non-Western food cultures he makes a real ass of himself. The essay on dumplings becomes almost laughable when it moves from West to East. (Specifically, AD fails to convey the crucial distinction between wontons and steamed dumplings, namely that the former go into soup; he even errs etymologically on the Chinese word "jiaozi" (dumpling), which he claims means "corner"--quite false.) Jim Leff wrote a fairly damning review of the book, a link to which appears below, but I wonder whether others have encountered specific problems with the book, and may have alternative recommendations for this sort of countertop resource.
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