|2013-03-01||Steve Gardiner||Book Review: Herbivoracious|
I never imagined I would write a review of a cookbook. Sometimes life intervenes. A high cholesterol reading, A change in diet. A gift book from a friend. A new attitude toward eating and cooking.
The result is a look at the book Herbivoracious (Boston: The Harvard Common Press, 2012) by Michael Natkin. Building on his food blog of the same title, Natkin completed the cycle by illustrating each recipe with his own photos which he said portray the dishes exactly as they are. He also includes his experienced advice on selecting the best basic ingredients to serve as the foundation of the 150 recipes he includes in the book.
My own change in diet inspired me to try cooking. I had done very little before and had no interest in learning. I tried a couple of simple recipes from other sources and found I actually liked cooking. Then, when I received Natkin's book, I decided I would try some harder recipes. They worked. No, they more than worked, they were amazing.
For example, the bocoles with spicy sweet potatoes (page 198) sounded excellent. It took a bit of chopping to get everything ready, but it was worth it. The dinner was delicious and the leftovers made excellent lunches the rest of the week. My wife wanted to try the portobello and summer squash lasagna (page 224) and the results were similar. In fact, we decided the dishes were so good we invited friends over for dinner. They had been vegetarians for over 20 years so it was a tough audience, but the dinner went over well and convinced us to try more of Natkin's recipes. The next experiment was swiss chard and tomatillo enchiladas (page 236) which were as good as anything I have eaten in a restaurant anywhere.
His instructions are easy to follow. The writing is clear and just browsing the photos of the food is a visual treat. We will be working our way through the book, one by one, and enjoying the adventure of trying new foods and learning new cooking skills. Read more by Natkin on his blog at http://herbivoracious.com.