The Vegetarian Flavor Bible
By Karen Page
Little Brown and Company, 2014
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 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.
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.