Off the Shelf: What’s Cookin’?

A few years ago, I was volunteering at the local library’s used bookstore, and one of my “jobs” was sorting and cleaning books before they went on the shelves for people to buy at crazily reduced prices.

We volunteers naturally got first pick (after all of the library staff, of course, who actually get paid to work there). So, I guess it’s more like twelfth pick or something like that, but we still got to buy books before the plebeian library patrons.

This kids’ cookbook is one of my best behind-the-scenes scores. It’s not much, but I totally fell in love with it! It’s a cookbook for kids with recipes from around the world. Easy recipes. That even I can follow. And cute illustrations, too.


It’s copyright 1974 by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company in cooperation with the U.S. Committee for UNICEF. It seems like the great minds behind this cookbook were trying to foster international goodwill through food, familiarizing kids with recipes from other cultures to promote familiarity and amity. See how all the children are cooking peaceably together on the cover?

Or, maybe the cookbook was a fundraiser or something like that. Who knows.

The cookbook features a bunch of countries around the globe, selecting one recipe native to the country or a big part of the culture.


Not every country is represented, but a lot of them are, including rather obscure nations (for kids, anyway) like Cameroon and Sri Lanka. The Middle East is not well represented at all.

What recipe did they choose to symbolize the good ol’ USA?


At least they didn’t pick hamburgers or hot dogs.

Some of the recipes are really easy, like the one for breakfast cocoa below. (Sounds delish, right?) Every recipe features a cute illustration of kids in native dress. I can’t decide if it promotes stereotypes or if it’s just plain adorable.


I love this cutie pie from Haiti.


And it’s no wonder this French belle has a smile on her face — she’s got an armful of carbs.


These kids from Hungary are all decked out in fancy dress. And behaving ever so polite. Mom would be proud.


There are also a few full-page illustrations. Here is one of my favs.


This little girl from India is getting help from Abu.


Besides the bright colors, cool patterns, and fun details, I also like the illustrations because some of them are downright hilarious. For example, doesn’t this little guy remind you of a certain boy from a certain book about a certain chocolate factory?


And this longhaired viking child has decided that his boat is hungry for meatballs.


A bird is about to nest in this young Adonis’ laurels.


And this stern soldier decided to pack his lunch skewer-style on his sword.


Now wait. This cookbook is going to get even cooler. There is a glossary in the back that explains what each of the illustrations are about. It tells you what the kids are wearing, and what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it. I applaud this over-and-above loveliness.


There are two recipes from this book that I’ve actually made, and both have been scrumptious. Since I’m pretty sure this cookbook is out of print, I think it’s OK to post photos of the recipes. I’m making the spinach pie this week for craft night.