Foreign cooking, wine and dining on new videos

February 28, 1993|By Chicago Tribune

A recent review of more than a dozen new videos produced three that should be prized additions to any cook's home video library, plus some well-made cassettes that relate to dining.

Two cooking videos feature Indian actress and cooking teacher Madhur Jaffrey. Both are designed to help us understand the exotic, spice-oriented cuisines of Asia.

"Madhur Jaffrey's Far Eastern Cookery: Thailand" ($29.95, 2 hours, distributed by Home Vision Films) is a combination travelogue and cooking lesson. Produced and filmed on location with the usual high production values of the British Broadcasting Corp., it represents the best of educational video. In visits to homes, we are given cultural and historical background as well as a visual record of ingredients, cooking techniques and presentation.

Ms. Jaffrey provides the relaxed narration and does some cooking herself.

"Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery," ($29.95, 2 hours, Home Vision Films) is done in a studio but nonetheless lavishly produced. This video is pure instruction, with great emphasis on ingredients (very useful for Western cooks not familiar with Indian markets). Ms. Jaffrey's training as an actress helps her cook and talk with graceful ease as she emphasizes the different regional styles of her homeland.

"Cooking with Clara" by Clara Lizio Melchiorre ($19.95, 60 minutes, available at her Pasta di Casa restaurant in Woodridge, Ill.) is a kitchen primer that provides definitive instruction for making pasta from scratch. The gray-haired, sincere and likable Ms. Melchiorre learned from her mother, the Mama Celeste of pizza fame, and she clearly wants to share her knowledge and culinary heritage. Ingredients are shown with amounts printed on the screen. The videos that don't focus on cooking directly are:

* "How to Enjoy Wine" with Hugh Johnson ($14.95, 53 minutes, Home Vision Films). This is a casual, chatty session with the noted English wine expert who opens his home, cellar and several bottles in the interest of relaxing viewers as they approach the challenge of choosing and appreciating wine. Mr. Johnson manages to impart a great deal of information about corkscrews, glassware, pouring and sipping.

* Marjabelle Young Stewart is even more focused as she conducts "The Art of Dining: The Business Lunch" ($14.95, 27 minutes, Home Vision Films). Produced in Washington, where the code of etiquette is "the unwritten law," the program uses staged situations to convey a good deal of common-sense information about how to "do" lunch.

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