1704 Vegetarians in Paradise/The Vegetarian Flavor Bible Book Review
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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegan Books

The Vegetarian Flavor Bible

By Karen Page
Photographs by Andrew Dornenburg

Little Brown and Company, 2014
Hardcover, $40.00

We recently had the pleasure of meeting veteran authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg when they presented their latest book The Vegetarian Flavor Bible to a roomful of bloggers in the test kitchen of Melissa's Produce in Vernon, California. Karen was a former Washington Post wine columnist and author of eight cookbooks. Andrew is a food photographer and a restaurant chef who also inherited his grandmother's love for photography.

The impressive hardcover book, a plump 1 3/4 inches thick and weighing 3.8 pounds, is not a vegetarian cookbook, nor is it a book focusing strictly on health or nutrition. Yet, this volume is a powerhouse of information that can make the vegetarian lifestyle very appealing and the foods taste irresistibly delicious.

The Vegetarian Flavor Bible The loss of both parents due to serious health issues sparked Karen's interest in learning more about eating healthier. As she and Andrew researched numerous nutrition and health books and websites, they learned the best health outcomes resulted from living a plant-based lifestyle. Encouraged to give a whole-foods, plant-based diet a try, they began to seek ways to create exciting flavor combinations to make plant-based foods taste sensational.

They discuss in detail the components of healthy plant-based eating in the introduction and quell the worries many people have about consuming enough protein, calcium, and iron without eating meat.

Karen says, "If I hadn't discovered eating vegetarian to be so delicious, I'd never have lasted beyond that first meatless week." What began as a research project, eventually led to creating the enormous database it took to produce this outstanding reference book.

History buffs will appreciate the superb historical chronology of those who practiced vegetarianism from 3000 BCE to the present.

Chapter 1 is a fabulous read of the vegetarian pioneers who took an unpopular stance during their time in history and inspires the vegans of today. The annotated listing includes many familiar names along with those whose fame has faded. Along the historical path of vegetarianism were notable figures like Leonardo da Vinci, Mohandas Ghandi, Donald Watson, Rachel Carson, The Beatles, Deborah Madison, Dr. John McDougall, T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Mark Bittman, Dr. Neal Barnard, and President Bill Clinton, among many others.

Organizations, foundations, and restaurants that promoted vegetarianism throughout history were also included in this chapter.

  • Ephrata Cloister was created in 1732
  • The first Vegetarian Society began in 1847
  • Ellen White introduced the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863
  • Pure Food Lunch Room opened in Chicago in 1900
Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg Traversing the country and talking to chefs of revered high-end restaurants, the authors noted the growing trend toward more vegetable-centric menus and the presence of vegetarian and vegan tasting menus in mainstream restaurants. These trends are driven by peoples' desire to improve health, explore global cuisines, consume plant-based foods prepared well, and experience flavors and textures that zing.

Chapter 2 covers the sensory experience of eating foods via the taste buds, nose, mouth, and other senses like the heart, mind, and spirit. Through the senses people experience flavor, texture, temperature, piquancy, and so much more. Those who crave the taste for animal foods can turn to a colossal list of plant-based substitutions that replace those flavors and textures.

The main focus of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is Chapter 3 that delves into the nitty-gritty of flavor matchmaking, those magnificent seasoning combinations that make a dish unforgettable. This section consists of an extensive alphabetical listing of foods and cuisines. Each item describes the food's season, flavor, category, potency, preparation tips, substitutions, and flavor combinations. Many items have sidebars showing how they are served in some restaurants.

Enhancing the book's graphic design are stunning photos interspersed with sidebars of chefs' helpful tips, techniques, and personal insights. Karen interviewed numerous chefs from coast to coast and shares their comments in brief paragraphs. The book concludes with extensive acknowledgements and a brief annotation about the chefs and food experts featured throughout the pages.

The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is the perfect gift to give anyone who has a genuine passion for creating exceptional dishes featuring plant-based foods. Every chef and food lover will find this jumbo volume a compendium of infinite ideas for making foods flavorful. No longer does a cook need to wonder what goes well with zucchini, or apples, or pomegranates to complete a dish. Karen and Andrew have created the ultimate bible for both novice and serious cooks.

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