8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A refreshing take on vegetables - but not really vegetarian,
This review is from: The Vegetarian Option (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Written by a non-vegetarian, this book offers a refreshing take on vegetarian food. I know I'll put it good use - but overall I did have some mixed feelings about it. I'll try to unpick them in this review and explain why.
Things I like? A lot. Physically, this is an attractively produced, slender hardback book with a pale green dust jacket. The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow, and I liked the short narrative text at the beginning of each section. The book is broken down into groups of ingredients - so, for instance, the section on carrots and parsnips contains a range of recipes involving those vegetables. There are some delicious ideas in here - the carrot salad with coriander & green chilli is absolutely wonderful, and the next recipes that I'm keen to try out are the beetroot jelly with dill & horseradish cream (yum!) and the gratin of chicory with mustard sauce. There's a good balance in this book between simple dishes and recipes that involve a lot more effort and ingredients. There's a wide range of culinary influences at play here, from mainstream British to French, Indian, Asian. The ideas are exciting and full of flavour. There's a nice balance between tried and tested classics, and new and exciting ideas.
With that said, some things about this book definitely did not sit well with me.
There are good pictures throughout, but I was disappointed to find that these did not accompany every recipe (I do like being able to get a sneak preview and see what the end product is meant to look like).
As a vegetarian, I did find that the tone of this book rather off-putting. I must say I don't think it's very clever to write a vegetarian cookbook and then alienate your main audience with a recipe for chicken stock and some poorly-judged comments about vegetarianism that could be read as disparaging. I know that this is not just a cookbook for vegetarians, which is brilliant - but clearly they are your main market here! I would be quite unhappy if a relative bought this book and got the impression that 'less fussy' vegetarians would be happy to eat food made with chicken stock, or pork gelatine, or Worcestershire sauce (which contains fish).
The other thing I want to point out is that this cookbook shares a lot of the problems that I see when picking the 'vegetarian option' in a restaurant. It is not written by a vegetarian, and this really does show - the recipes are not for complete meals that include a full protein (nutritionally essential in order to maintain a healthy vegetarian diet). They are more like side dishes than main meals in this respect. And there's a heavy reliance on cream, cheese and milk - again, people who are vegetarian will know that these are not the staples of healthy everyday food at all.
In many ways this is a brilliant cookbook and I'm giving it four stars for its content, as a general cookbook. But I'm disappointed in it as a vegetarian cookbook. I'd suggest that it should have been called 'The Vegetable Option' rather than 'The Vegetarian Option'...