Top critical review
I don't love it and I wouldn't recommend Well Fed to the ...
on October 4, 2017
I don't love it and I wouldn't recommend Well Fed to the novice, new-to-paleo cook. To be fair, I don't think Well Fed is particularly marketed to the brand new cook but I would suggest that someone new to cooking or paleo/primal focus on learning the basics: how to season/brine/dry brine and get a nice crust on your meat while a pan frying, learn how to braise or slow cook or pressure cook and how to saute, learn/find a good noodle replacement for you, what general ratios of fat, protein and carbs work best for you...do the basics first, they will take you faaaaarrr and build your sense of flavor profiles and what you like vs don't like. Then pick up Well Fed.
I bought this about five years ago, before I learned how to cook, before I did some world travel and before I lived in a big city. As a total novice in the kitchen, with a background from the American mid-west, I found the recipes quite foreign--not so much in the names, but what the flavors should be...and I didn't like many of them and was turned off to paleo in general because of it. Now, with a few years in the kitchen under my belt cooking up some delicious paleo/prmial meals for myself, family and friends, I feel pretty confident will my home-cook skills: having returned to Well Fed, I still don't like it all that much...but keep in mind, I'm just a home cook.
I think Melissa's recipes are a little intimidating to the uninitiated. I also feel they miss the mark and many of the flavors are unbalanced...for example, the sunshine sauce asks for 2 tablespoons of lime juice (!) and misses that balance between a little bit sweet and a little umami. The novice cook probably wouldn't know how to "fix" that recipe and still keep it paleo. (My suggestion: add only a splash of lime juice (plus more only to taste), some honey (start with a tablespoon and go from there, to taste), a touch more garlic and ginger and you have a pretty nice paleo sauce...maybe not exactly peanut sauce, but certainty inspired by. Almond butter, which you can find at most supermarkets now, is also a good substitute if you can't find sunflower seed butter.) But that's just me, you do your thing and adjust flavors as you see fit, like we all do with recipes. I think Melissa's ideas are a creative and an interesting spring board for those with experience in the kitchen with at least a basic palette to reference, but overall, they're off balance and challenging for the newbie. Plus, you can find many (most?) of her recipes in this book online now. Good Luck!