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July 1, 2019
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Vegetables aren’t an easy sell

Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook by Jose Andresa and Matt Goulding, Ecco / Anthony Bourdain, US $39.99, Pp 368, May 2019, ISBN 978-0062668387

Americans have pretty bad eating habits. One fine morning, they discover that fat is the enemy and they start eating rice cakes and boiled chicken. The next day, they decide to burn all carbs in a bonfire and start eating like Neanderthals. They spend $20 billion — many times more than any other developed country — on the diet industry, yet they remain the least healthy nation in the developed world. Eight-seven percent of American adults don’t meet their daily fruit and vegetable requirements. Forty percent of American kids’ vegetable intake comes from French fries. This is a national emergency. We need to find ways to get people excited about things that sprout from the earth. We need to show the world just how sexy plants can be. This is exactly what Jose Andres is trying to do in Vegetables Unleashed.

Jose Andres says that fruits and vegetables are sexy in a way that a chicken breast can never be. When you bite into a piece of meat, the first five seconds are kind of interesting but then you spend another 20 seconds chewing something that has no flavor. He is right. Now think about a pineapple. As soon as your fork hits the flesh, its scent fills the air like a wonderful perfume. Then you bite down, it is juicy, sweet, and acidic, with notes of passion fruit and citrus and mystery that lingers long after you stop chewing. Jose Andres says that chefs love to cook vegetables because the possibilities are endless. What can you do with a pork chop or a strip steak? You can grill it, pan-fry it, or broil it, but the end result is always the same – a piece of cooked meat. But you can shave a carrot into a salad. Pickle the peelings. Slow roast it whole until it is sweet and meaty. Poach it and puree it and paint it onto a plate. Turn the flesh into a soup warm with curry and coconut milk, turn the tops into a sharp green pesto to spoon on top.

Finally, we have a book that makes vegan food as accessible as it is delicious. Jose Andres’ Vegetables Unleashed is simply brilliant! This isn’t just a beautifully manufactured vegan cookbook; it’s a resource guide that will leave no excuse for you to not eat healthy. If you have a dilemma, Jose Andres has the answer. Jose Andres takes away excuses people often use to maintain their dietary status quo. Those who think they can’t be satisfied without eating beef will change their opinion if they get acquainted with his plant-based dishes. Jose Andres’ Vegetables Unleashed is guaranteed to change the way you eat.

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