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12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ingredients hard to find, 20 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: Viva Vegan! (Paperback)
To be honest, I found this book a little confusing. I admit that I have never tried to cook Latin American food before and was hoping to spice up my vegan repetoire but quite a lot of the ingredients can only be found online and my local big supermarkets had never heard of half the ingredients on my list; I still haven't found toasted manioc flour although I've found out it is made from cassava. I did find a couple of recipes that contained fairly 'normal' ingredients such as "Creamy Corn-Crusted Tempeh Pot Pie" and "Tangy Mojo Sauce".

There are lots of sauce and salsa recipes and a lot of seitan recipes.

It is not a book for the beginner that you can simply pick up and start cooking; I couldn't tell which recipes were starters or main courses (I apologise for showing my ignorance of Latin American cuisine) although there is a section at the back of the book which gives ideas for dinner parties. There is also a shopping list at the back of the book.

For newcomers like me to Latino cuisine I think the book would have benefited from photographs next to the recipes; there are only 16 photos in the middle of the book which are very colourful and look appetising but I think they should have been placed at the side of the recipes.

Edited to take comments into account - I have been vegetarian for several years but have only just taken the plunge into becomming vegan.I apologise for thinking Spelt was the same as seitan. Thank you for comments and putting me straight on this one. (I shouldn't rely on Wikkipedia for info!!))Perhaps we should bombard the big supermarkets with requests for more vegan products.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Mar 2011 18:58:03 BDT
venatrix says:
I just wanted to say that spelt is a variety of wheat that produces goods that are somewhat denser and chewier than regular wheat. All wheat is vegetarian. If you meant that spelt is the equivalent of seitan (vegetarian wheat "meat"), it isn't. Seitan is made from gluten flour from regular wheat (what the Americans know as vital wheat gluten and which you can buy in the UK online or from a good health foods shop). I suspect that seitan made from spelt gluten would be excessively tough. I'm not sure if this will clear things up for people, but spelt and seitan aren't the same thing. People will wind up with disastrous results if they confuse the two. As far as Mexican food in the UK goes, the supplies are a dismal situation. But, if we don't start asking for them, the suppliers won't know there's a market for them and we'll never get them. Now that I don't live in the US anymore, I make a lot of my Mexican items (seasoning mixes, enchilada sauce, etc.) from scratch. Regular Mexican cookbooks can be a big help here.

Posted on 3 Apr 2011 22:15:39 BDT
A. Stephens says:
I didn't find this review helpful as there are some mistakes which are misleading. I have Viva Vegan, and I don't cook from it very often because I haven't yet got hold of some of the less common ingredients - but I kind of expect that when I cook specialist dishes from a specific regional cuisine, it's not going to be just the ingredients I'd find in Tesco. I kind of think it goes without saying that Latin American food will have Latin American ingredients. It's not a beginner's cookbook, and some of the author's other cookbooks (for example, Veganomicon) would be a much better place to start for someone looking to whip up delicious and easy vegan food with familiar ingredients.

Although I appreciate the review is trying to acknowledge that this is a new kind of cuisine to her, I think it's quite unhelpful to describe this as "mexican", when the recipies cover the rich and diverse cuisine of the whole of Latin America: very few of them are Mexican dishes.

And finally - seitan is something very, very different from spelt (one is a vegetable meat substitute, the other is a kind of grain/flour), and anyone who followed the reviewer's misunderstanding would be heading for a recipe disaster!

Posted on 9 Apr 2013 09:26:34 BDT
Last edited by the author on 31 Jul 2013 23:03:32 BDT
A. JARVIS says:
Hi - I can see your frustration. I bought my mum the Vegonomicon and she struggled with everything from using measuring cups to "what on earth is cilantro?" Vegan cooking is like baking, it takes some practice, trial and error. Seitan (also called 'mock duck' in Chinese restaurants) is something that took me a couple of months to master, once you have its amazingly easy and you can make faux lamb, beef and chicken. You just need to find the base recipe that works for you (I use a variation of "PPK Chickpea Cutlets" broiled in wine or beer, in a roasting tin covered with foil, in the oven for 45 minutes). As for substitutions of American ingredients (both North and South of the boarder) Google is pretty amazing. As suggested, I recommend a good, normal Mexican cookbook that you can use as a reference for making sauces and spice mixes.

Good luck. Keep trying, it gets easier.

Posted on 31 Jul 2013 23:01:41 BDT
A. JARVIS says:
This is a US cookbook and yes, relies on you being in a US city with access to mexican-style supermarkets. Virtually all ingredients are substitutable. With the exception of buying Vital Wheat Gluten Flour (very cheap from 'Flour Bin'), you can cook every recipe in this book with similar products found in most Waitrose or Sainsbury, especially if you live in an area with a good asian or Caribbean community. Just google 'substitute for X'. When you get the hang of it, you can go for different types of chilli and some of the other specialist items. Manioc is tapioca flour, which you can use corn flour...
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