Foreword Review — Winter 2014
The Adventurous Vegetarian offers a variety of sumptuous, international, meat-free recipes and feasts.
Jane Hughes, a vegetarian since her teens, draws from her twenty years of diverse experience, including as editor of The Vegetarian magazine, in this collection of recipes, which she tested and modified to adapt them to the Westernized kitchen while still maintaining the authenticity of their originating country.
The book is organized alphabetically by country, with Hughes—taking the confusion out of how to pair up recipes for a meal—offering a full menu of at least three dishes for each country. Hughes introduces each menu with a look at its country of origin, revealing how the country’s history, culture, and society has shaped the diet, providing a true flavor of the country’s authentic cuisine while also giving a better understanding of what vegetarianism means to the country.
Photos of Australia, with its colorful birds and rich wines, appear in the country’s introduction. Hughes notes that given the history of its origins as a penal colony that became self-sufficient through sheep farming, vegetarianism isn’t widespread there. Hughes’s Australian recipes incorporate native products such as macadamia nuts (roasted and served with a medley of asparagus), feta chunks, and tomatoes. Hughes, inspired by Australians’ preference to slip in a slice of pickled beetroot between their burger and bun, invented the Beetroot Burger recipe, which has a firm, meaty texture thanks to quinoa. Hughes completes the menu with Lamington, a light sponge cake coated with a thin layer of chocolate icing and a sprinkle of desiccated coconut.
Ethiopia provides a completely different adventure for the taste buds. The vegan menu of six recipes includes injera, a large and spongy pancake, on which the traditional meal consisting of a selection of Ethiopian wats, or stews, is placed. Hughes also provides recipes for atakilt wat, made from zucchini, and misr wat, made with red lentils. Ethiopian cuisine not only showcases the country’s spice blends but also the communal experience of eating, as meal are shared.
Varying widely in their offerings, the recipes range from main courses to desserts and drinks and differ in their complexity, which benefits epicureans of varying cooking talents. For example, the Malaysian bubur pulut hitam, a dessert made from black rice, involves four steps, while the recipe for Israeli cream-cheese pastry, known as rugelach, consists of twelve.
The Adventurous Vegetarian is an extensive, enticing, and enlightening collection of global vegetarian recipes.