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Bought, Borrowed & Stolen

One chef's fascination with knives and the cultures that inspired them

by Karen Day in Food + Drink on 22 September 2011

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The daughter of a historian, British chef Allegra McEvedy grew up traveling the world with her father as he researched the obscure remainders of centuries past. Encouraged to keep a diary, McEvedy found herself writing more about the food she was having than the cultural points of interest. Her new book "Bought, Borrowed, Stolen" combines her literate upbringing with her passion for food, showcasing the most mind-blowing meals McEvedy encountered from the 20 countries she most recently traversed, along with a unique knife from each place representing its gastronomical heritage.

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The knives and recipes McEvedy "borrowed" from each place she visited are beautifully intertwined, each informing the other. The two are also backed by a helpful fact file for each country, which gleans valuable information such as the food they export to the ethnic make-up. Rounded out by an entertaining tale about her connection to the region and detailed photos of the dishes, the entire book is like one cultural reference guide put into honest terms that would entice anyone with a curious palette.

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McEvedy's knife fascination spans a hefty Burmese machete to a delicate French patisserie knife, each one another useful tool in her quiver—except, she adds, the Brazilian pig leg boner.

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Recipes include Jerusalem artichokes she ate in San Francisco (where she learned the value in leaving the skins on), a "very butch" chilli sauce sourced in Cuba, venison biltong learned from a local Boer butcher in South Africa and Arctic dogs, Norway's answer to the hotdog, which comes wrapped in a soft tortilla shell.

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McEvedy's completely unique and well-rounded take on some of the best food—and knives—from around the world turns her fifth cookbook into more than a simple culling of culturally-inspired dishes. Her knowledgeable take on cooking is evident but her passion is sure to inspire chefs at all levels.

"Bought, Borrowed & Stolen" sells online from Amazon.

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