Monday, August 08, 2016

Dinner Winner? Can I Eat That? by Joshua David Stein

Can I eat a potato? A tomato? A tornado?

No, you can't eat a tornado. it's made out of wind.

But you can eat... tonnato, a sauce from Italy made with tuna....

... tournados, a type of steak from France...

... or a tostado, a type of fried tortilla with delicious toppings from Mexico.

Can we eat a sea urchin? They do in Japan. How about jellyfish? Do we spread them on a bagel? No, but in China they slice them thinly and serve them chilled on shredded veggies!

Can we pick pickles from a pickle vine? No, but we can turn cucumbers into tasty condiments by soaking them in vinegary brine!

Do eggs grow on egg plants? No, eggplants grow on eggplant plants.

But that raises the inevitable follow-up question:

Where do eggs come from then?


Oh, and where do chickens come from?

All chickens come from eggs, but not all eggs become chickens.

Some become breakfast.

Skipping the issue of which came first, we move on to more, um, salient or saucy inquiries:

If there's bacON, is there bacOFF?

So where there's ketchUP, does there have to be ketchDOWN? Can there be both raisINS and raisOUTS?

There are a plenty of spicy tongue teasers and tongue tanglers in Joshua David Stein's Can I Eat That? (Phaidon Press, 2016), a book of many flavors, suitable for serving up for potential young foodies or persnickety eaters alike, a gustatory vocabulary builder, and a teachable text on foodstuffs for primary grade nutrition units.

Clearly author Joshua David Stein didn't heed his parents' injunction not to play with his food! Stein makes the world of edibles his gustatory and linguistic playground, cooking up some delicious wordplay which is as savory to the ear as artist Julia Rothman's illustrations are sweet to the eye. Rothman sets the table with lovely Victorian china, plated with some surprising dishes--jellyfish, snails, and thinly sliced sea urchins with rice--and her pictured eggplants, ripe with "hen fruit" are a visual gag that will easily engender giggles.

Even picky eaters may have their taste buds titillated and their funnybones tickled by Stein's explorations of the way the world eats. A tempting and tasteful literary treat for the primary set, serve this one up hot or cold for those well-lettered kids who have already consumed Keith Baker's toothsome LMNO Peas (The Peas Series) (See review here). "Giddy in its sense of linguistic discovery" says Publishers Weekly of Stein's quite palatable picture book.

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