Cookbook review: Cooking lessons with a side of culture

‘A Taste of the World: Celebrating Global Flavors’ by Rowena Scherer (The Collective Book Studio, $29.95)
"A Taste of the World: Celebrating Global Flavors" by Rowena Scherer (The Collective Book Studio, $29.95).

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

"A Taste of the World: Celebrating Global Flavors" by Rowena Scherer (The Collective Book Studio, $29.95).

Rowena Scherer grew up in Malaysia in a family who not only ate together, but they also cooked together. She credits those daily rituals with instilling the well-cultivated palate, sustainable eating habits, and confidence and independence that have molded her life since.

After Scherer realized her two New York-born children couldn’t even chop an onion, she wanted to find a way to create lasting food memories with them at home, while building on their budding curiosity for other cultures. She honed her own cooking skills at the French Culinary Institute and sourced hard-to-find ingredients so her family could re-create dishes reminiscent of their worldly travels.

In 2017, Scherer used the skills she employed working on Wall Street to devise a business plan that helped other families turn dinnertime into an adventure. She created eat2explore — first as a meal kit and then as an experiential “explorer box” filled with recipes, shopping lists, activities, specialty ingredients, and culturally inspired goodies such as stickers and aprons.

Now she’s distilled the best of those lessons into “A Taste of the World: Celebrating Global Flavors” (The Collective Book Studio, $29.95), a beautifully illustrated cookbook filled with practical, easy-to-follow guidance.

The 60 recipes within represent 20 countries and five continents, many with vegetarian options: Japanese Pork Katsu, Vegetable Korma from India, Greek Lamb or Vegetable Burgers (Biftekia) with Tomato and Cucumber Salad, Ethiopian Lentil Stew (Misir Wat) over rice.

Step-by-step photos and starred difficulty levels guide parents in assigning tasks suited to their child’s abilities. Colorful maps and fun facts throughout help young minds and palates connect food to place.

After following Scherer’s simplified directions and ingredient list for the Valencian all-in-one rice dish, paella, I’m convinced there’s much in these pages even old hands in the kitchen can learn about satisfying international cravings at home, even on a busy weeknight.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at