Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry

Afro-Vegan - Bryant Terry

Review by Shellie for Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean and Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry.

Shellie’s quick take:   A fun, delicious, entertaining, and good-for-you cookbook that features plant-based foods that don’t contain meat or dairy products.

Description:   Bryant Terry “remixes the favorite staples, ingredients, and classic dishes of the African Diaspora to present wholly new, creative culinary combinations that will amaze vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike.” He is a “food justice activist” with food justice defined as “the basic human right to fresh, safe, affordable, and culturally appropriate food in all communities.”

Shellie’s thoughts:   Before I received this book I found Afro-Vegan’s recipe Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens in our local San Francisco Examiner’s Sunday food section. Needless to say it was delicious. And when Afro-Vegan became available for review I jumped at the chance. From there we have tried (I cook and eat, my husband just eats) a handful of recipes – such as Summer Vegetable and Tofu Kebabs with Pomegranate-Peach Barbeque Sauce, Stewed Tomatoes and Black-Eyed Peas with Cornbread Croutons, Glazed Carrot Salad (in its raw alternative form) and most recently watermelon juice and Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rinds and Jalapenos. All have been winners. And the best yet is that I have barely scratched the surface of what’s in this healthy treasure of a book.

I loved Afro-Vegan. It’s thoughtfully and logically organized, divided into sections like – Spices, Sauce and Heat; Soup, Stew and Tagines; Greens, Squashes and Roots; Cold Drinks, Tonics and Cocktails. It also includes gorgeous and colorful pictures throughout. With its small hardbound cover, it’s easy to hold and it stays open easily, so you can refer to it while cooking. Each recipe has a clearly outlined list of items needed for the cooking and easy to figure out instructions. I liked that every recipe has its own separate page, where Terry has added his entertaining thoughts and descriptions about the recipe; and there is even some fun non-foody content - he’s included music for each recipe to listen to while cooking or eating, as well as books for some of them. And, importantly, all the books and music included are created by black artists. The only thing I can say that was difficult about the book is that the recipes may be a little complex and time consuming. But I believe that after a few times cooking one of the recipes an experienced or determined cook will be able to make a few changes to make the dish easier for themselves.

Overall, the thing I liked best about Afro-Vegan is that the author has a wonderful and subtle sense of humor. Bryant Terry has added fun to the book by including recipes for some wonderful sounding cocktails such as the Amy Ashwood, the Black Queen and the Congo Square, all of which he suggests “will promote lively conversation, dancing, and frolicking.” And for more fun he’s included menu suggestions for celebrations and get-togethers for events like a Juneteenth Sweet-and-Savory Brunch and Saint Bob Marley’s Birthday. Best yet is the book is not preachy but is educational around the need for a plant-based diet to optimize health, as well as the inequalities of food access for a significant number of US citizens. A special book with delicious flavors that has health and social activism at its heart. It’s a 4.5 star for me.

Hardcover | April 08, 2014 | Pages: 224 | Ten Speed Press

This book was received from the website Blogging for Books which is hosted by The Crown Publishing Group. My complimentary copy of Afro-Vegan was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. If you are a blogger you can sign up too!

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