tasty review: come and eat! by george ancona


“Come and Eat!”

Now, that’s music to my ears, probably yours, too. 🙂

When award-winning author, photographer and filmmaker George Ancona was growing up, his mother would always yell, “Georgie-e-e-e, come and EAT!”

While I was still in elementary school, the world opened up to me when I visited my classmates’ homes, where I tasted so many foods from faraway places. My friends also liked to come to my house after school because my mother always gave us Mexican hot chocolate with tacos.

Mmmmm! If I had lived in his neighborhood, I’d have probably gone over to George’s house every weekday afternoon. What I especially like about his new photo essay, Come and Eat! (Charlesbridge, 2011), is that he’s obviously still very curious and passionate about faraway places and views eating together as “a ceremony to celebrate life.”


Now, he’s invited all of us to a delectable multicultural feast, with food and mealtime customs from such places as Tibet, Sweden, Japan, India, Polynesia, the United States and Mexico. No matter where we live, eating together gives us the opportunity to share thoughts, feelings, and friendship.

Through simple text and mouthwatering photographs, we see not only what various people are eating, but how (with chopsticks, knife and fork, or fingers?), when (breakfast, lunch or dinner?), where (school cafeteria, family table, at a picnic?), and why (a holiday or other special occasion?)

“At the end of the day, we have dinner, or supper, the main meal of the day. Some people say a prayer, or grace, to give thanks for the food on their table.”


“Fufu is a favorite Nigerian delicacy.”

We see an Asian girl chowing down on noodles, a group of people in Nigeria sitting on mats using fufu (cassava root paste) to scoop up meat, veggies and sauces, a Tibetan family sitting on the living room floor eating momos (meat dumplings!), and a Chinese family gathered around the table eating community style with various dishes to share (spareribs, noodles, rice, seafood).

We see how some people pray before eating. Muslims remove their shoes and kneel on beautiful rugs. Men and boys eat on one rug, women and girls on another, to celebrate their brotherhood and sisterhood. An enticing pot of spaghetti sauce, a plate of saffron rice and curry, a hearty bowl of slurpy noodle soup, tortillas loaded with grilled meat and veggies — all make the reader wish he/she could reach right into the pages and help himself. And how much do I love the luau with its roast pig and lau lau?

“When a Chinese family gathers to eat, everyone helps themselves to the food in the middle of the table and adds it to their bowls of rice.”

The variety of foods and ways of eating reveal our diversity, while eating as an enjoyable and enriching social activity, where food feeds the body, and fellowship feeds the soul, unites us all. It’s likely most readers will find a notable point of reference in Mr. Ancona’s interesting cross section of life, which includes various ages and socio-economic backgrounds in everyday as well as formal situations. A highly recommended “appetizer” to stimulate discussion of world cultures.

Warning: the colorful endpapers featuring plates of food, everything from fruit salad and apple pie to sushi and salad, will induce keen hunger and drooling.

Pick your utensils, then Come and Eat!!

“Wipe your mouth with the last piece of tortilla, then gobble it up.” Thanks, Mr. Ancona!


by George Ancona
published by Charlesbridge, 2011
Nonfiction for ages 5-8, 48 pp.
Includes Authors Note
Available in hardcover and paperback
On shelves now.


Have a good week!


*Spreads posted by permission, copyright © 2011 George Ancona, published by Charlesbridge. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

10 thoughts on “tasty review: come and eat! by george ancona

  1. Oh, how much do I love that cover! Look at those wee Chiclet teeth! Somehow missing teeth are always cuter.

    Love looking at pictures of people sitting on mats to eat – I am just not that graceful, and remember eating with Korean friends of ours growing up – chopsticks and a low table. That was slightly disastrous! But, practice makes perfect.

    What a fun book.


  2. I did better on mats when I was younger and more flexible :). Used to love the low tables at Japanese restaurants.

    Mr. Ancona has done such a great job of capturing the pure joy of eating. I like the girl with the corn on the cob, the girl on the cover, and the boy slurping a noodle. I think noodles are just about the most fun to eat!


  3. What an absolutely wonderful book! I love learning about traditions around the world.

    Incidentally, it’s because we DO treat coming together with food as a way to share and connect that I felt terribly isolated when I had to be so strict with my diet; I felt like I couldn’t really be part of the community when I had to eat my own separate food.


    1. I totally understand that feeling, Debbie, as I’ve gone through periods without wheat, dairy, sugar, etc. It’s definitely not fun not being able to eat what everyone else is.


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