Good Food Revolution speaks to Good Egg’s Mika Bareket about her choice of book for October.
GFR: So for this month’s this month you have picked Heidi Swanson’s Near and Far: Recipes Inspired By Home and Travel. Tell us why you chose this book?
Mika Bareket: Swanson’s books are our best selling vegetarian titles, and yet she makes little or no mention of vegetarianism. I’m fascinated by that. Fittingly, the people who buy her books are some of my most relaxed, healthy-looking customers. I want to be one of THOSE people.
GFR: Now… … another vegetarian cookbook. Am I seeing a trend here? And if so, why is that?
MB: My vegetarian beloved has moved in, and I am endeavouring to feed us well.
GFR: I find her writing style quite peculiar, not in a bad way, but Heidi Swanson does have a very particular voice. I believe that you weren’t very happy with her previous book? Why was that? and how did you come to warm to her writings?
MB: Where did you hear that? Hmm. It’s possible I was critical of her last book, though I was likely not reacting to the book so much as I was to her fans: smooth skinned, svelte ladies who speak in gentle tones. It came out at the beginning of a golden era for “nourishing” cookbooks, and I took a hard line because I was a contrarian and/or of the opinion that one should eat to be happy, not nourished. I’m changing.
GFR: This book is, in my mind, very accessible for even the novice cook, using, for the most part, familiar ingredients, and when she does wander into the use of the less familiar she eases the reader in comfortably, would you say that was a fair commentary? How did you find the ingredient selection?
MB: I’d rate the exoticism (and cost) of her pantry as moderate. Her recommended produce slightly higher than moderate. But she helps the reader make substitutions, and having made a number of her recipes, I can attest to their flexibility. I have added ingredients and omitted ingredients, and have been very happy with the results.
GFR: Many of these recipes were inspired by the author’s travels. Do you have much of an opportunity to travel yourself? or does Good Egg keep you firmly rooted in Kensington?
MB: I travelled a fair bit last winter and spring, but stayed put through the summer and fall. Come December 26, I’ll be planning some trips again. Spain sounds good. But I generally plan things kind of spur of the moment.
GFR: Which of the recipes from this book have you been most drawn to?
MB: I made Pozole Verde for Thanksgiving. It was as much fun as one can have with soup! My guests added all the garnishes themselves, Choose Your Own Adventure-style. The Miso Oat Porridge is likely the next thing to entice me. I want to be nourished.
GFR: Excellent stuff. Thanks Mika!
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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he may just pick this one up too… all that red meat is no good for the gout.