Some of the best journeys in the world have something to do with food; good food essentially. As your favourite weekly, we know how gastronomy should be one of our leading segments and among the many exciting stories and features we have carried through the past years, one specific segment that was loved and appreciated in its two years of running “Around the World in Eighty Dishes” by writer ‘Glen R Stansfield.’
Glen, who is a licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer by profession, took Weekender readers on an unforgettable voyage that sailed through the richest of ingredients from various places around the world; avoiding cliché presentations and bringing out more exotic and flavourful recipes. As we concluded on Jan2018, it only made sense to have the all those recipes compiled and presented to the residents of Bahrain in a book format and after extensive planning, lots of hard work and unrelenting commitment to have it done, Glen is now presenting “Around the World in Eighty Dishes” as a keepsake in print. The book launch is set to take place at Sheraton Bahrain Hotel on Novemeber6 and the book will be available for purchasing at the Snowflake Craft Fair taking place at Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, from 11am till 4pm.
It was a pleasure to sit down with our chef and explorer once more to know more about his second voyage that is representing his recipes to residents in an indulging manner!
W. What lead the thought of taking the featured recipes in Weekender and presenting them as a book? Also how does the book differ from the featured articles?
Glen: Having put the effort into producing the series of articles, I felt it would be useful to have them all in one place. I have kept recipe scrapbooks in the past, but I always find a proper book easier to handle in the kitchen. It also gave me the opportunity to produce a non-halal version and add some extras into both books, such as conversion charts. I wanted to produce a book of ordinary dishes by everyday people, from around the world.
W. Since it goes with the theme of exploration, how do your food stories define the cultural stance of the places you mentioned?
Glen: The one thing that stood out when researching the recipes was that there are very few places that have a pure cultural identity in their food. Outside influence, be it from spice traders, colonists or itinerant workers, has changed the identity of almost all the dishes we eat today – and is still doing so. The recipes evolve, are adapted to suit local ingredients and local palates. Even so, each country still manages to retain an immense identity in its food.
W. What were the major challenges you faced while juggling your career and writing a cookbook, when you’re not a chef by profession?
Glen:One of the biggest challenges for me was taking dish I had never prepared before, and make it presentable and edible on the first attempt. A professional chef will have had years of experience in preparing food; many techniques at their fingertips. I had never made a meringue before the series and I had to get it right on the first attempt because the article had to be in for editing by the following day. Another challenge is getting recognition. There are so many cookbooks written by well-known chefs and celebrities; getting my book in front of people is not an easy task.
W. How Weekender played a role to its actuality?
Glen: The support from Weekender has been phenomenal. The encouragement to keep going through the original eighty-weeks and to continue after with the preparation of the book has been vital. It would have been all too easy to sit back after the series ended and be satisfied.
W. How do you think it differs from other cookbooks?
Glen: I tried to bring something different that perhaps you haven’t heard of before, but for the people of the country, they would be as familiar as machboos is to a Bahraini. Occasionally I would choose something more familiar to us all, but often that would be to keep the ingredients simple or to remain within the principles of halal cooking.