on October 19, 2006
I own both her French and Italian vegetarian books, and while my cookbook library comprises about 150 volumes, they are in my top 5. I've never made anything from a Paola Gavin book which wasn't excellent! (My husband regularly requests the Leek Tart from the French book.)
Fellow vegetarians are familiar with the sorts of "ethnic" recipe variations which merely exclude the meat, or add some goofy substitute, like tempeh (sorry, tempeh fans), but these are nothing like that-- instead, Gavin has sought out GREAT recipes which are vegetarian from the outset. She gives all kinds of background on the various regions of France and Italy in the aforementioned 2 volumes; in "Mediterranean," she expands into Turkey, Greece, Spain, Croatia and North Africa, and gives similarly excellent info about the histories (and presents) of the various cuisines. You can't go wrong buying this for yourselves, my fellow vegetarians, esp. L/O, as there are are loads of great cheese and egg dishes (but quite a bit is vegan, too)! If you're looking for a gift for a vegetarian-curious person, this should be it. If you're looking for a cooking gift for a PERSON, period, this should be it! My only disappointment in my experience with Paola Gavin's books is that I haven't figured out how to contact her personally-- I would like to fall at her feet, weeping with gratitude. Perhaps she'll see this slavish tribute someday. Paola Gavin, you reign supreme!
on February 2, 2007
The cookbook is exactly what it says it is: a vegetarian cookbook. In that regard it is excellent. We found that many of the ingredients were the same, or very similar, from recipe to recipe. I suspect, however, that is a function of what was/is available to rural Mediterraneans with limited financial means. Our main problem is that I am allergic to eggplant and my husband is sort of a picky eater and, therefore, there are few recipes that he is willing to try that are not potentially fatal to me. I would not have purchased this book if I had been able to look at it in a bookstore where I could have reviewed the recipes for ingredients.