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The Big Book of Appetizers    by Meredith Deeds & Carla Snyder order for
Big Book of Appetizers
by Meredith Deeds
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Appetizers have become a staple of the dinner party, but there's more to this part of the meal than a shrimp ring or a few bits of cheese and a handful of crackers. In The Big Book of Appetizers, Deeds and Snyder tell us that serving appetizers at a party results in taking the time to linger over the meal. 'Enjoying food over a longer, more convivial space of time helps to bond relationships, create generational ties, and even establish business connections.'

With this in mind, the authors have chosen to start the book with a chapter titled Party Basics. Although only two pages long, this chapter gives anyone interested in entertaining at home a few things to think about, including how many guests will be in attendance and how formal the gathering will be. Chapter Two, Find It Fast, isn't so much a chapter in the typical sense, but an index of recipes that allow you to locate the perfect food in the least amount of time. Since recipes are categorized under such headings as Quick and Simple and Good and Good for You, this index makes finding the perfect appetizer a cinch. Chapter Three offers menu ideas. Whether you're planning a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta or a Super Bowl Party, the authors have done all the thinking for you.

From there, Chapter Four leads us right into the wonderful collection of recipes. The chapters are organized by the type of appetizer you wish to serve, such as Nuts, Nibblers and Cheese, Bread and Pastry, Seafood, Salsas, Dips and Spreads and Soup Shots, offering something sure to satisfy everyone on your guest list.

With two hundred and fifty recipes to choose from, you'll never run out of appetizer ideas again. Are you throwing a party for guests who 'like to get in on the action?' The authors suggest serving Spicy Pork Dumplings with Spicy Thai Dipping Sauce. The prep work is as simple as deciding to 'make your filling ahead of time, clear a large workspace, hand your friends a glass of wine, and set them to work.' Or perhaps you want something that's simple to make and sure to please. In that case, you'd want to try the home-made Guacamole or Italian Tuna Spread.

While many recipes involve minimal preparation work, others are more complex and require specific ingredients that may be hard to find. Although the instructions are easy-to-follow and the book's format is lively and colorful, the lack of food pictures is disappointing. But despite those minor caveats, the wide variety of recipes makes this book a welcome addition to any cookbook shelf.

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