Book Review: Food Matters

Are you reading the blogs? If you aren’t, and you like to cook and/or watch the food channel, you should be!

Not least of all because their shopping blog, Bazaar, does regular book giveaways. Of which I’ve won two. Because apparently not too many people are reading yet (since I’m certainly not naturally that lucky).

Anyhow, I was super excited to get my copy of Mark Bittman’s book Food Matters, and managed to read it in just a few hours. Mostly because I totally skimmed the first half.

The book’s content falls on an interesting line: the first half seems to be fully already preaching to the choir. If you haven’t already read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, both by Michael Pollan, Bittman’s content in the narrative part of the book seems a bit thin. But if you have read either or both of those books (especially the latter), again the first half of Food Matters seems like unnecessary overkill.

Where this book really shines is in the latter parts, where Bittman gets into instructions and recipes for what he calls “Sane Eating” (or eating like food matters).

For those of us with whom Pollan’s books have resonated, but who are still floundering a bit with how exactly to eat mostly plants when so many of our meals have been meat-centric for so long, this book is pure gold. Bittman’s plan is to eat mostly vegan (though he has limited dairy, like cream in his coffee) until dinner, then whatever the hell he wants.

His recipes are also really elemental – breaking down ways to change up each recipe by changing the vegetables, starches, sauces, legumes, etc. depending on what’s local, in season and in your pantry. I’d be highly intimidated by most of these recipes if I were a novice cook, but as someone who’s just looking for new ways to put basic ingredients together to achieve a filling, nutritious and “sane” diet, this totally fits the bill.

Bittman’s been publishing a lot about his book and some of the recipes on his blog; check it out for a taste of what’s in the dead-tree version.

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