Top positive review
36 people found this helpful
This is great cooking, from an old friend
on April 12, 2002
When I was in college almost 30 years ago, "vegetarian cooking" was an oxymoron. Cooking and eating vegetarian was attractive from an ecological point of view (see Diet for a Small Planet), and sometimes as part of a hippie rebellion stance, but, as the daughter of a Frenchwoman, I felt that one could only go so far. Like, I drew the line at those ghastly soyburgers. And what on earth could you serve guests out of those earnest, dietarily correct tomes? And if one needed to conduct a seduction? Honey, it was lamb chops or nothing.
Well, Anna Thomas was the answer. Rich, sophisticated (to us, anyway), delicious, impressive, yet charming and lighthearted recipes from cover to cover.
My copy of The Vegetarian Epicure grew tattered, and I became a better cook, and acquired a family, and the good sense to realize that you just can't cook with that amount of butter, cheese, cream and eggs and hope to maintain a figure of any sort. So I lost touch with Anna. And, though I never committed to whole-hog vegetarianism, I bought many excellent vegetarian cookbooks over the years, and put together a fair repertoire in the genre.
And then a few years ago, I ran into Anna Thomas in the bookstore, in the form of her New Vegetarian Epicure. It was like running into a friend from college you had always liked and admired, and been a little afraid to find out what had happened to. The good news was that she is as charming and resourceful as ever, and has grown up along with us, only, perhaps, with more grace.
The recipes are arranged in menus, which puts some people off, but I have cooked many of the entire menus, as well as individual recipes, and THEY NEVER FAIL! They are much lighter than the recipes in her first two books, but just as imaginative, delicious, and deeply impressive to a crowd. (Most of these recipes feed 8-12 people, which makes me imagine that Anna has many friends and loves them very much). She has a chapter on what kids like. She knows what it's like to feed a family, and to feed a mixed crowd of herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. She is un-doctrinaire. When you cook and consume this food, it is good food, pure and simple. I fed a large, motley, shifting population of friends and in-laws from this book for three solid weeks, because one person staying with us is vegetarian, and no one was even aware they weren't eating red meat, chicken or fish.
Not for the stodgy and not for beginners, but hey, we're not kids anymore. We don't need to be talked down to. Favorites: Corn Crepes with Goat Cheese Stuffing, with an excellent Mole Poblano. And a really brilliant Grapefruit Sorbet with Pernod.