I won this book from a NY Journal of Books giveaway. This brief little book with a beautiful cover and very expressive photographs of actual people, is an impressive analysis of what food means to all of us. At first, it seems simple enough, comprised of beautiful pictures of food with varied peoples enjoying its consumption, but it grows into the expression of a much deeper concept. The initial pages have few words but the few words grow into paragraphs when necessary. It is a book that can be shared by all ages. It would be fine if it was read by a child able to read by his/herself and it would be just as wonderful an experience if it were to be read to a child who cannot read the book alone. The key thing is the fact that it really illuminates the value of a shared meal. Food is not just a means to an end, satisfying a bodily need. It is a psychological and emotional event as well. Mealtime should be a time of family, a time of talking about the events of the day, a time to grow closer. We have lost a lot of this ability today, since families have two working parents who make little effort to sit down together. If nothing else, this book points out the need to return to the days of shared meals.
The book itself does another good job. The photographs displayed on the pages are sharp. Their meaning is imparted with clarity, and the picture is worth 1000 words as the saying goes. I gave this book five stars. It accomplished its purpose and it did it well. It includes almost every culture in its discussion of mealtime. Eating is a fundamental joy in Jewish households, and as a Jew, I can appreciate the value of shared meals since all of our holidays revolve around a wonderful meal with traditional foods and happy conversation.