If you’re going to tour the world—especially some of it’s less familiar corners—it’s essential to have an experienced guide. And if that tour happens to be culinary, such a guide would be Bryanna Clark Grogan in the latest of her eight cookbooks, World Vegan Feast (Vegan Heritage Press, 2011). Endorsements of this book’s quality read like a vegan Who’s Who.
Take your pick from an itinerary of 200 recipes from 50 countries, some as familiar to those of us in America as Italy and others, like Burma and Uganda, perhaps familiar only from travel magazines or even National Geographic! All countries are listed in a handy index with page numbers for corresponding recipes and Bryanna navigates between them with the ease of a well-seasoned traveler.
And speaking of indexes, this book is full of them and other kinds of helpful lists and information, from Retail and Online Sources for ingredients, to US. To Metric Weight Conversions, to Functions of Egg Replacers (did you know there are 8?), and much more that will help provide smooth sailing on your trip around the globe.
The journey begins with “World Vegan Kitchen Essentials” which provides 11 recipes for basics, say homemade vegetable powder or seitan, that can be used in other recipes. So, if you prefer not to purchase prepared products, you don’t need to.
Successive chapters are arranged as one would expect, save a couple of really nice departures (you did get that corny reference to travel, yes?). We all know that not all main dishes are created equal. So dividing those chapters into three—Comfort Foods, Beans Around the World, and “Meat of the Fields” (soy and seitan)—was such a nice decision and saves hungry readers time in getting to their destination: the dining table!
Similarly, desserts are divided into two chapters based on cooking methods, one baked, the other not. All recipes, regardless of the chapter, are accompanied by an introduction, well written in the author’s warm conversational style which betrays her deep humanity and her broad-based expertise.
Within the chapters, the recipes cross-cross the globe in no apparent order. But an index at the beginning of each chapter allows for a quick scan so that taste travelers can hone in on what appeals most. I confess that I have not had time to cook a recipe from this expansive book yet—Vegan MoFo 2011 has kept me busy developing recipes and posting from my own new cookbook. But after perusing World Vegan’s 250ish pages, including an 8-page insert of color photos, my first port ‘o call is likely to be Scotland, though it is a tough decision.
Finnan Haddie with Smoked Tofu calls out to my love of anything smoked and, though I was never terribly fond of fish even years ago when I was a “pescatarian”—it was a bone and texture issue—I did love seafood. So the creamy golden sauce for this dish, which takes its briny flavor of the sea from konbu (seaweed), really appeals.