All you need to know about food and drink in this Taschen feast of infographics

Readers can either graze or binge their way through this superb collection of infographics, but will need both hands to lift the trilingual tome, which weighs around a kilogram.

While it may sound strange to tell stories about food using data, Food & Drink Infographics’ subtitle “A Visual Guide to Culinary Pleasures” is surprisingly apt.

The wealth of information contained in the graphics will whet the appetite of casual readers who can dip in and out of the book, but it will be manna from heaven for foodies and infographic enthusiasts, who will consume it as fast as possible.

Simone Klabin explains in her introductory essay how food visualisations have evolved from a Mesolithic cave painting of bees attacking a person collecting honey to contemporary videos uploaded to the internet, by way of ancient recipes on clay tablets, illuminated medieval manuscripts and the Victorian era cookbook, Mrs Newton’s book of Household Management.

After reading this book, I now know how a chunk of raw beef, for example, arrived at my supermarket. I can identify the cut, explain how the fridge which keeps it fresh works and whether it was sourced locally.

I have learned multiple ways to cure, age, grill, barbecue and roast joints of meat, and how a microwave oven heats food. I discovered that meat was first roasted 1.8 million years ago and the recipe for the mustard I would choose for a condiment probably originates from a Roman cookbook dating back to 4AD.

I now feel confident about pairing the right wine with a meal thanks to a graphic on wine appreciation by my colleague, Adolfo Arranz, the deputy head of infographics and illustration at the South China Morning Post. Other graphics explain how our taste buds work and that roast beef shares over 100 flavour compounds with beer, peanut butter, coffee and bacon.

Another graphic shows there are no nutrients in beef that are not also available in a balanced vegetarian diet and that a single cricket packs more protein and contains less fat than 85 grams of beef.

That particular graphic, also published by the South China Morning Post, explains why an increasing number of researchers are calling on the widespread adoption of an insect-based diet to alleviate concerns there will not be enough food for everyone by the year 2050 if we continue on our present path of consumption.

Global in scope, the book brings together infographics from every corner of the world with plenty focusing on Asian cuisine.

Foodies will learn about the history of their matcha latte – which traces its origins to ancient China before being adopted by Zen Buddhists in 960AD – as well as how to eat fugu without killing themselves.

A fold-out timeline dates the birth of noodles at 2,000AD, after the discovery of millet-based noodles in an earthenware bowl in northwestern China, while a piece of cheese dating from around 1615BC has been found in a desert location in Xinjiang.


‘So Fresh Juice’ – your elixir of life

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On a cutting board, slices of red and green apples, carrots and yellow pears have been prepared for juicing before being poured into bottles and labelled “So Fresh Juice”.

Company founder Ea Veasna says the key to making So Fresh Juice is nothing more than choosing a variety of fresh fruits packed with goodness, plus one simple rule “nothing added”.

The juices may be simple enough to make, but the nutrition-packed drinks have seen a boom lately among health and exercise buffs. And it is being sought after by gym goers and those who wish to stay in shape by shedding those extra pounds.

Veasna spent time to study the nutritional benefits of each fruit he uses in his juices, and collected recipes from different countries to make them unique.

Soon, he came up with 21 types of juices that serve different purposes, depending on the nutritional value contained in each fruit.

The 29-year-old juice shop owner says: “The reason I run this kind of shop is because I enjoy working-out but easily get tired.

So I started by looking for drinks that gave me an energy boost while keeping my weight down.”That’s how I began my search for fruit juice recipies.”

In time, Veasna says he gained knowledge through meeting other juice enthusiasts in his travels abroad and supplemented this with internet research. And before long, he was creating his own recipes that now fill So Fresh Juice.

The labels on each juice bottle lists the name of the drink along with its purpose and the fruits that were used to make it.

Each of the 21 types of fruit juices he sells are geared for different purposes. Some are geared towards improving the skin, while others maintain weight, boost energy, or even enhance sexual performance.

The “Stress Down” juice, for instance, is made of strawberries, apples and ginger, and as its name suggests, it is supposed to relieve stress. Women may opt for “Skin Care” which is made of pomegranates, apples, beetroot, lemon and pineapple.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post