Written by Michael J. Rosen and Ben Kassoy
Illustrated by Doug Jones
Warning: Do not read this review before breakfast! Or any other meal for that matter! This is a warning that should also be applied to Michael Rosen’s latest book, which more than delivers on the title Strange Foods.
Part of the “No Way” series, Strange Foods gives readers a taste for bird spit (in Bird Nest Soup, a Chinese delicacy), maggots (in Casu Marzu, Sardinian cheese that tastes like ammonia and smells like a stink bomb), jellyfish (in Echizen Kurage, a Japanese Candy), and cat poo (in Kopi Luwak, a coffee made from beans that have been partially digested by an Asian Marsupial). And if that’s not enough – how about some poison on the side? This book dishes it up in tiger blowfish, which contains enough tertodotoxin to “pleasantly” numb your lips and tongue. But if you eat too much of this Japanese dish you can experience dizziness, exhaustion, nausea and muscle paralysis that can lead to death! Strange Foods also introduces readers to mithridatism, the practice of ingesting small amounts of poison to build up immunity to snake bites, poison ivy encounters and attempted assassinations in the case of one Turkish King.
The food description and recipes in this book are served up with a combination of food photography and humorous cartoon style illustrations, set on a bold color background. The effect is visually striking and appealing – although most of the food pictures will have readers yelling “yuck!”
There is a glossary at the end to increase the third grade readers comprehension and source notes to help readers get more information. All this makes Strange Foods an essential addition to the non-fiction library. But it is a book that’s best kept out of the kitchen. Otherwise, you just might start getting requests for chicken feet, pig hooves, or giant water bug soup!