Book Review: The Spice Necklace – Ann Vanderhoof

Title: The Spice Necklace
Author: Ann Vanderhoof
ISBN: 9780618685370
Pages: 480
Release Date: June 23, 2010
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Ann Vanderhoof and her husband Steve are a little bit in love with the Caribbean.  That’s why they decide to wrap up their affairs and day jobs and spend three years sailing around the Caribbean, living on their boat.  Along the way, they get to know the locals and sample the varied cuisines of the amazing islands they visit.

Review:

I love travel memoirs, but I don’t think I’ve read one yet about the Caribbean, so when I first heard about The Spice Necklace, I was really intrigued.  Sailing around the islands, getting to know the locals?  It sounded like a lot of fun, and I was eager to give it a try.

I really enjoyed The Spice Necklace for multiple reasons.  First, Vanderhoof and her husband visit many different islands.  The reader really gets a sense about how divergent they are, how they have their own distinct cuisines and cultures.  Often, the Caribbean is painted with a broad, singular brush, so it was a lot of fun to see how varied the region really is.

Another aspect of The Spice Necklace that I really enjoyed is how Vanderhoof and her husband seek out locals on each island they visit.  Playing tourist isn’t enough for them; they really want to immerse themselves in the cultures they find.  Vanderhoof wants to learn how to cook each island’s cuisine from the people that do it best.  She learns about the ingredients and the processes and then tries to replicate the experience in the tiny galley of their boat.  She includes the recipes she learns in the book, including substitutes for harder-to-find ingredients.

Getting to know the locals, rather than just playing tourist, makes this book a much more personal memoir.  It works wonderfully as a travelogue and as a foodie book, as Vanderhoof describes the food she is eating in mouthwatering detail.  I definitely recommend this one to those of you who enjoy either of these types of memoirs.

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Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this review! I love this kind of book, I too love travel books. The cover on this is gorgeous!
    I actually know someone who is sailing around the Caribbean on a sailboat! I will recommend this book to them.

  2. Thank you so much for this review! I love this kind of book, I too love travel books. The cover on this is gorgeous!
    I actually know someone who is sailing around the Caribbean on a sailboat! I will recommend this book to them.

  3. Oh, yes! I would love this book! Since I do love foodie books and travelogues, this seems like the perfect amalgam of both! I hadn’t yet heard of this book, but it sounds wonderful, and it’s going right on my list. Thanks for the excellent review!

  4. Oh, yes! I would love this book! Since I do love foodie books and travelogues, this seems like the perfect amalgam of both! I hadn’t yet heard of this book, but it sounds wonderful, and it’s going right on my list. Thanks for the excellent review!

  5. This one does sound great- I’m a fan of memoirs and armchair travelling! Thanks for bringing this one to my attention- I haven’t heard of it before.

  6. This one does sound great- I’m a fan of memoirs and armchair travelling! Thanks for bringing this one to my attention- I haven’t heard of it before.

  7. I’m intrigued! And a vicarious trip to the Caribbean is sounding pretty good right about now.

  8. I’m intrigued! And a vicarious trip to the Caribbean is sounding pretty good right about now.

  9. I too love travel memoirs and this location sounds awesome!

  10. I too love travel memoirs and this location sounds awesome!

  11. Oh gosh. I have this one on my shelf and I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet. Sounds made for me.

  12. Oh gosh. I have this one on my shelf and I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet. Sounds made for me.

  13. I really enjoy travel memoirs, and this sounds like a good one!

  14. I really enjoy travel memoirs, and this sounds like a good one!

  15. Hello Swapna,

    I love this genre of book, as bedside table reading, something that you don’t need to get to immersed in all in one sitting.

    I haven’t come across this book before, but it is definitely one I shall be looking out for, your review was great.

    I love Caribbean food, the spicier the better, so I am sure I shall be salivating whilst reading!!

    Yvonne

  16. Hello Swapna,

    I love this genre of book, as bedside table reading, something that you don’t need to get to immersed in all in one sitting.

    I haven’t come across this book before, but it is definitely one I shall be looking out for, your review was great.

    I love Caribbean food, the spicier the better, so I am sure I shall be salivating whilst reading!!

    Yvonne

  17. I like travel memoirs too. Throw in talk about food and it’s the perfect book.

  18. I like travel memoirs too. Throw in talk about food and it’s the perfect book.

  19. It has been ages since I read a travel memoir! I used to read them all the time.

    This sounds like a good read.

  20. It has been ages since I read a travel memoir! I used to read them all the time.

    This sounds like a good read.

  21. Did you make any of the recipes? If not: why? Was it because they didn’t really tempt you, or would you have needed ingredients that are too out of the ordinary, or…? Maybe you just don’t like cooking? 😛

  22. Did you make any of the recipes? If not: why? Was it because they didn’t really tempt you, or would you have needed ingredients that are too out of the ordinary, or…? Maybe you just don’t like cooking? 😛

  23. Gnoe – I didn’t make any of the recipes. A few of them definitely sounded interesting, and I do cook quite a bit. However, I don’t usually cook recipes from books. There’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just that I often forget about them when I’m coming up with weekly grocery lists.

  24. Gnoe – I didn’t make any of the recipes. A few of them definitely sounded interesting, and I do cook quite a bit. However, I don’t usually cook recipes from books. There’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just that I often forget about them when I’m coming up with weekly grocery lists.

  25. This book sounds good – new title to me…. how do I miss books like this? 🙂

  26. This book sounds good – new title to me…. how do I miss books like this? 🙂

  27. Hi! I was just looking around for other reviews of this book. I think Ann Vanderhoof’s two memoirs about sailing the Caribbean are fantastic. Have you read her first book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes? Anyway, I’m glad to have found you and am a new follower.

  28. Hi! I was just looking around for other reviews of this book. I think Ann Vanderhoof’s two memoirs about sailing the Caribbean are fantastic. Have you read her first book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes? Anyway, I’m glad to have found you and am a new follower.

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