Uh huh. Check out that bad boy, all lime green and bright fuchsia up in your face. I know Miley isn’t twerking on it, but it is still worthy of your attention. The nice people at Frances Lincoln sent Smokin’ Tofu a copy of World Food Café: Quick and Easy Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey so I could slap on my bitch face and judge it to hell.
It just so happened to arrive the day I had tickets to a triple screening at the Prince Charles Cinema. My boyfriend and our pals Richard and Natalie hit the Before trilogy running, armed with vegan snacks from Cookies & Scream, courtesy of Natalie. I hadn’t seen any of the Before movies, but here’s an interesting little side note for you. Writer and director Richard Linklater (A Scanner Darkly, Fast Food Nation), is a vegetarian. Throughout the Before trilogy, you see the characters eat and drink all sorts of things, but never a morsel of meat touches the lips of either character. I am so into that.
Anyway, each film is set in a different part of the world (Vienna, Paris and the Greek Peloponnese peninsula), much like each chapter of this wonderful book. Each chapter covers a different trip undertaken by the couple – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Chile, Cuba, Japan, Laos, Helsinki & Lapland, Namibia, Syria and Vietnam.
A week after the movie marathon, Brendan and I finally had the chance to knuckle down and do some serious eating. World Food Café by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott is a travel book as much as a cook book, and we loved poring through each chapter, trying to decide what we wanted to eat first and where we’d most like to visit.
The recipes are quick and dirty – expect lots of butter, feta and yoghurt – but, for the most part, they’re very easily veganised. There are also a good handful of vegan recipes, and very few of the non-vegan recipes hinge entirely on the dairy ingredient(s). Each page is beautifully illustrated with colourful, glossy photos of both the food and the country of origin. Admittedly, I wish there were a few more of the recipes themselves, but we can’t have everything, can we?
The writing and photography are certainly evocative. I can practically smell those paper bags of freshly fried nachos, taste that Vietnamese café au lait. From avocado shakes to za’atar spice mix, I’ve learnt a little about the cuisine of twelve countries that I haven’t stepped foot in (and, in turn, I’ve added to my travel wish list).
In the end, we settled for three dishes: buttery Bhutanese asparagus with crumbled feta; apple, saffron and honey butter rice (also from Bhutan), and Bengali curry in a hurry, which was quick, simple and exquisitely spiced. It was a cinch to throw together all three dishes simultaneously, and the sweetly spiced buttery rice will be an autumn hit in Smokin’ Mansions.
If you fancy World Food Café: Quick and Easy Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey, you can get yourself a sweet little discount of 20%. No, really. I insist. Give Bookpoint a bell on 01235 400 400 and quote the code 46WORLDFOODCAFE (offer code is valid until the end September 2013). It’ll be yours for £16 and a song, which is £4 off the RRP. Then you too can eat sweet buttery apple rice from the pan and dream of greater surroundings.