I mean, who wouldn’t be sold on the adorable cover with almost-stamped images of pears, broccoli, and what I think are figs?
Once the review copy arrived, I discovered there are pros and cons with the cover design—things I hadn’t noticed in my earlier excitement.
The issues aren’t with the artwork, which I still love, but the format: The book comes with a dust cover that is, for someone like me, something that appears quite finicky and easily damaged.
But what do I know? I’m a terrible cook who can’t be entrusted to have expensively produced books in the vicinity of liquids and solids being smashed together without badness happening. And there’s precedence for having dust covers on cookbooks.
Besides, the glass-half-full slash person-who-can-be-entrusted-with-this-stuff view could be that the thinking behind the dust cover is that it’s removable and therefore ideal to protect the book’s extremities from getting damaged with food splodges and splashes.
But I’m getting ahead of my nitpicking self.
Peace & Parsnips’ overarching theme is captured by the Dalai Lama quote ‘Approach loving and cooking with reckless abandon’. Which is what it does. For the foundation of vegan cooking, Watson writes in his introduction, is creativity.
Watson’s written this cookbook some five years after converting to veganism from being a hardcore, nose-to-tail carnivore. It means he’s bringing five years’ worth of experience to the fore—enough time for him to have developed expertise in the vegan cooking realm, but not so much that he’s forgotten what it’s like to be a wide-eyed, overwhelmed newbie.
Watson’s argument is that if he can go vegan, anyone can, and here are some recipes to get them started. What we eat reflects who we are, he continues. Also, there’s much, much more to vegan cooking than tofu.
As my introduction intimated, what’s immediately apparent about Peace & Parsnips is its beautiful design and investment in quality. The paper stock, for example, is recycled but organic and expensive in feel rather than dowdy. The images too are gorgeous.
Above all, the book’s useful. For example, there’s a spread tackling food myths that include:
- meat is the only way to get protein and cow’s milk is the best calcium source
- we have incisors for a reason
- it takes cream to make things creamy.
The book also breaks down some of the food groups, outlining, for instance, some of the different types of grains that are great for vegans and tips for how they can be cooked and served. The book also covers fruit, nuts, milks (vegan, of course), and more.
My cookbook wishlist always includes having one colour image for every recipe—I’m such a terrible cook I can’t make what I can’t see the finished product of (and in fact I have a theory that recipes that don’t have full-colour images to accompany them are made far less frequently than ones that do). That would be my one suggestion for improving Peace & Parsnips.
Regardless, the book contains some pretty appetising-sounding recipes that, picture or not, warrant a try:
- Raw-sli with Grated Apple, Blueberries, & Macadamia Cream
- Scrambled Tofu with Buckwheat Pancakes & Avocado Butter
- Sesame & Sweetcorn Pancakes
- Braised Fennel, Pear & Radish with Toasted Almonds
- Homemade Vegetable Crisps
- Open-Top Asparagus & Cashew Cream Pie, with Fig & Apple Compote.
So, dust cover or no, a picture per recipe or no, this cookbook gets my thumbs up.