Celtic Folklore Cooking
Author: Joanna Asala
Published 2010 by Llewellyn Worldwide
ISBN-10: 1567180442
ISBN-13: 978-1567180442
Paperback, 375 pages
List: $19.95 (U.S.) $22.95 (Canada)
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Reviewer: Mike Gleason

I have been reviewing a number of “cookbooks” this year, and this is the final one in my stack at this point. Most of them have concentrated less on recipes and more on correspondences and ingredients, whereas this book is definitely skewed towards to the recipe end of things. That doesn't mean that she neglects other aspects (such as historical notes, basic explanations of the cycles of Celtic life, or other items), it simply means that they serve as seasoning while the recipes compose the meat of the volume.

Not only do you get recipes (some modern, some early-modern, some medieval), you get mythology and folklore, anecdotes and general correspondences. And you get all of that in an entertaining package, by an author who knows how to keep your interest.

This is not a magickal cookbook, although Ms Asala does give suggestions for Sabbats and other holidays. It is a book composed of recipes drawn from the breadth of a culture which spanned a continent and covered millenia. There are recipes from Scotland, Ireland, Galacia, and other places. Some are drawn from family recipe books, some from published sources; from homesteads to bed and breakfasts; from simple to elaborate.

And the stories follow in similar vein. Some are short, some are longer. Once in a while it is a bit difficult to see the connection with the recipes around them, but that truly isn't important. They convey the flavor of the existence of an entire people.

There are snippets of folk songs, proverbs and sayings – all the sort of things you would be likely to find in a treasured family cookbook. You will find recipes for everything from soups to desserts; from teas to liqueurs.

The index, in an inspired bit of planning, not only has the recipes grouped by type, but also by holiday. So, if you want something special for a birthday, or New Year's, or Michaelmas, all you have to do is check the index to be guided to a group of related recipes.

Considering the number of people who claim Celtic heritage (even though actual Celts are few and far between), this book should be very popular. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore (before they all disappear) and browse through it. You should have no problem finding something to catch your interest. Then add this book to your collection.