Friday, April 24, 2015

Review: A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones

This is a lovely, but more importantly, inspirational, new vegetarian cookbook from UK cook Anna Jones.  This book is very reminiscent of Heidi Swanson's Super Natural cookbooks, which I love.  The format, photography, and especially the food remind me a lot of Swanson's books.  And that is not a bad thing!  The recipes here are for fresh, homey, yummy-looking and -sounding vegetarian food that is easy to prepare and good for you.  There are many lovely recipes and accompanying photographs, but perhaps my favorite thing about this book are the pale blue-green layouts of un-recipes that encourage you to take a very basic formula and change its many parts based on your tastes and the season.  For instance, there is one that is title "One Soup: On Thousand Variations."  Here, Jones gives you 7 basic instructions (e.g., "Create the base layer," "Choose an herb," and "Choose a spice"), and then gives you a bunch of possible options that you can mix and match.  Basically, Jones encourages you to experiment and invent.  Very early in the book, she provides one of these layouts that is entitled "How I put a recipe together," and basically, she lays it out in 8 basic steps with a few examples.  This book is therefore based on the philosophy that you can create your own recipes and are not beholden to anything she says!  Her book is really about offering you possibilities and inspiration, and is definitely not prescriptive.  I love the generous, creative, and very open spirit of this book.  But don't worry, it also includes many, many recipes, every single one of which is accompanied by a short essay by Jones explaining the choices she's made.  The instructions for the recipes themselves are clear and conversational, and embedded in all of them are even more ideas.  At the end of many of her recipes are little un-recipes.  For instance, a recipe for farrow with roasted leeks and smoky-sweet romesco ends with a list of 9 other ways to use romesco, including "spread on toast and topped with a smear of goat cheese for a quick snack," and "spooned on top of a bowl of soup."  Her language, as you can see here, is totally unpretentious and highly evocative without being flowery.  More than a cookbook, this is a book of inspiration and ideas. 

(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)

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