by Annie Somerville Scribner, 2003 Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Dec 15th 2003
It's a truism to say that different
people have wildly different food tastes, and so it can be hard to know which
cookbooks to recommend. Narrowing it down to vegetarian makes it easier but a
quick glance at the shelves of a good bookstore shows that the number of
choices is still bewildering. Nevertheless, Everyday Greens stands out
head and shoulders from the crowd of other books as one of the best available.
On opening the book, it is
immediately appealing. The paper is high quality, and the there are some
attractive watercolor illustrations decorating some of the pages. There is a
high quality of design in the formatting of the recipes, using different fonts
and colors for the title, description, ingredients, and instructions. With
nearly 400 pages and nearly 250 recipes, it is packed full of ideas, and with
18 pages of index, it is easy to find your way around the chapters.
The greatest strength of the book
lies in its combinations of flavors and textures. Sommerville draws on a wide
variety of different cooking traditions in this collection, including
traditional American, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Thai. The
recipes are highly distinctive but are simple enough not to scare away even
novice cooks. For example, there's a tasty Macaroni and Cheese, using heavy
cream, yellow onion, garlic, herbs, Dijon mustard, cheddar and Parmesan, with
garlic bread crumbs sprinkled over the top then baked in the oven. A simple
side dish is basmati rice with pumpkin seeds, with just butter, salt and
pepper. For the Fall, the Butternut Squash and Chestnut Soup is very
satisfying, and for striking colors, I recommend the Asparagus and Beets salad
with lemon vinaigrette. The instructions are clear and easy to follow.
Sommerville has a great ability to
create strong tastes that complement each other beautifully, and browsing
through these eating suggestions is a delight in itself. While Deborah
Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is till the best comprehensive
non-meat cookbook on the market, Everyday Greens is probably the most
pleasing to handle and use. Highly recommended.
Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities
Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at DowlingCollege, Long Island. He is also
editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.