On Re-Discovery

Bear with me while I get a bit philosophical for a few minutes. The following story can be viewed as both a concrete and metaphorical tale, so read wisely. I think that I can safely count myself in as part of the 'It's a Vegan Cookbook, OMG!' crowd. I tend to limit my purchases to a few significant ones per year rather than buying each and every book that comes out, but you get the idea, I'm sure. So now, I am going to tell you the story of World of the East Vegetarian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey. I purchased this book at least 3 years ago, and up until this past month, do you know how many recipes I had made out of it? One. YES, one very good dish. Now it's not as if these recipes are particularly demanding time or technique-wise (I have cooked more from the Millennium book than this one), or that they even require a hefty amount of exotic ingredients (one well planned trip to the Indian grocery should take care of your needs). No, it's just that I was *intimidated* by the idea of cooking "exotic" cuisine, even though I love love love it so very much. The recipes in this book are not part of my Italian roots, and they are not strictly the Nouveau Contemporary Vegan that has risen in the past 15 years. These are dishes filled with culture and heritage that I am unfamiliar with. I should not be cooking them, I should be cooking Italian!

So now I ask you all: how many of you have purchased a book, or on a larger scale, a more significant item that simply sits on your shelf because you feel intimated by the prospect that it presents? Whether it be technique, requirements, cuisine, time etc etc, I feel that we have all done this at some point. Why does this happen for you, and how do you come to change this realization? (Now if you
really would like to get philosophical, apply this to your daily lives, and one element that you lack / ignore / find intimidating. How can you work through this?)

After hearing me complain about wanting to utilize this book more in my cooking so that I can learn and experience everything from it, Frank finally made the bold statement that we should work to cook one dish per week from it. What a novel idea! And guess what? We have survived! From Creamed Eggplant to Okra with Tomatoes, each dish that we made from the book has been delightful. Now, when we have extra of a particular vegetable, we include WOE into our option searching. And along with this re-opening of a cookbook has come an opening of the mind.


Anonymous said...
3:37 PM, May 11, 2010

I just bought this cookbook on the weekend. And I love it!!! In fact, anything by Madhur Jaffrey is great.

Try the Besan on Page 88 - it is delicious.

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