The Great Hadassah-WIZO Cookbook
B.J. Busch is Associate Librarian (Access and Information Services) at
the University of Alberta.
This could have been a great cookbook. It had everything going for it: a sensitive and caring publisher, earnest and talented contributors, and an editor with a background in both home economics and food science. Unfortunately, it shares in the same deficiency common to so many other cookbooks assembled by well-meaning groups of cooks — lack of attention to detail. According to the introduction, all recipes were tested before being accepted for inclusion, and approximate proportions were translated into more accurate measurements. How, then, to explain a recipe which gives precise measurements for all ingredients except aniseed, which one is simply told to add? (How much? Is it one teaspoon or one cup? We aren’t told.) Or a doughnut recipe where one must double the amount of flour specified in order to be able to knead the dough? Or a recipe which produces burnt cookies unless one halves the baking time called for? While experienced cooks would approach some of the recipes in this book with skepticism, and would make adjustments automatically (e.g., they will whip the cream before folding it into the cheesecake mixture, even though the recipe doesn’t specify that the whipping cream be whipped), the novice cook would have some difficulty in producing first-rate results.
On the other hand, the book has many positive qualities. The photography is superb. The selection of over 900 recipes is excellent, running from the sublime to the ordinary, and encompassing samplings from many parts of the world. Ingredients are given in both metric and imperial measurements. Each section is preceded by an introduction by Sara Waxman. A special section provides recipes for Passover and menus for holidays and ritual occasions. The index is easy to use.
This is a welcome addition to the cookbook field; however, discretion is required with respect to measurements and cooking time, making its use more suited to experienced cooks.