Why have I got this book?
It's a first recipe post. It's warm, I've been weeding and this morning I made cake with the grandchildren, so I am all inspired out.
The cake was Nigella's Strawberry and sour cream streusel cake and the results look pretty good, though mine stuck to the pan. Looking forward to it for dessert tonight.
So due to the lack of inspiration I decided to do a first recipe. This is the next book on my shelf, published in 1991 when I think I was probably going through one of my periods of feeling I should eat more vegetarian food.
It must have been an impulse buy - it was probably cheap and I'm guessing the words meatless and pasta were what got me. After all I had never heard of the writers - Mindy Toomay and Susann Geiskopf Hadler. Yes they are American and Californian at that, and also a bit new age, judging by the somewhat sickly little poem at the beginning which includes lines like:
"I vow to work with the courage of flowers
I cannot find pictures of the authors, other than a very blurry one on the cover of a different edition. So I assumed a one book authoring. But no, both of them have written quite a few other books in the vegetarian, vegan genre, so I shouldn't dismiss them out of hand. Well that kind of 'health food' world of cooking is out of my realm of knowledge anyway. Not that that is a good thing.
Meatless in the context of this book actually also means fishless of course - it really means vegetarian.
I'm sure that people are still producing books on pasta but you sort of have to wonder why. Actually the introduction to the book pretty much tells us why:
"Passion for pasta is an insatiable affair. To satisfy our hunger for simple, substantial nourishment, we turn again and again to pasta. How can a humble paste of flour and water inspire such devotion?
Perhaps we love it because it combines so deliciously with so many foods ... Whether hot or cold, whether sparsely or luxuriously dressed, the unpretentious character of pasta is endearing. What's more, most pasta dishes are quick and easy to prepare - they fit nicely into the tussle of our busy lives. ... Also to its credit, pasta is economical and nutritious."
All of which is absolutely true. I'm willing to bet that almost everyone has at least one pasta meal per week. Probably more.
But do we need any more books on pasta? Maybe back in 1992, but today every edition of Coles Magazine and the like will have at least one, probably more recipes for pasta. Every cooking show on the television will at some point have a pasta recipe. And we are obviously all eating it as the supplies of pasta were down, down, down at the beginning of this pandemic remember?
And my first recipe? Well after you plough through all the introductory pages on shapes, and equipment you come to pesto. And is there anything more you can say about pesto? Well again, I guess, to be fair, back in 1992 you probably could. And also to be fair they include a whole lot of alternative pestos ranging from different herbs and nuts to rather more exotic things like Shiitake and spinach pesto with ginger. Now does that qualify as a pesto or not?
I guess it depends who you are. If you are a fervent Italian cook from Liguria then pesto is probably the pesto we all know of basil, pine nuts, etc. and any other version is anathema. But then technically 'pesto' just means paste - so yes, you can make any kind of paste you like, call it a pesto and toss your pasta in it. And I highly recommend that you experiment and try this.
I think this is a book I shall be taking to the op shop though - or maybe putting out at the front of my house for passers by to take away with them. As I saw yesterday on my walk.