BOOK REVIEW AND COMPETITION: World Food Cafe: Quick and Easy Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey

by - September 25, 2013

The competition is now closed. Thanks for entering and congratulations to Christina W - a copy is on it's way!

A cookbook with just chapters on countries, each with a handful of recipes is rather a new on me. Great if you don't want to commit to a whole book on Vietnamese or Syrian cooking. To have a taster or an overview to a cuisine is ideal, allowing you to explore further when you discover those that particularly appeal to you.

World Food Cafe is a cookbook whose focus is easy vegetarian recipes from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Chile, Cuba, Japan, Laos, Helsinki, Namibia, Syria and Vietnam. They are a collection of recipes procured by authors Chris and Carloyn Caldicott from home kitchens, ships' galleys, roadside cafes and stalls. This will be their third book in the series and for those particularly interested in travel as well as food, will find the introduction sections to each country fascinating. The photography really does take you on a food journey thought the countries as well as showcasing people and produce. I spent hours trawling through it, wishing I had taken that gap year after all.

The other thing that appeals to me with this book is despite being exotic, most dishes totally achievable as a mid-week supper with most ingredients readily available, only a few items requiring specialist food stores. It's useful, as all cookbooks should be yet so few are!

Design-wise, despite a particularly eye-catching cover, it is all pretty conservative and standard in layout. The positive from this is that the simplicity of the design allows the juicy travel photography to shine.

There are a few functional issues with the book however; it does suffer with inconsistent page numbering (numbers not on each page) which is one of my pet niggles as is a useless index. I remember seeing a pancake recipe but was only listed under "T" for Toasted Coconut and Honey Pancake recipe to find the page number. As well as recipe titles I think all cookbooks should include the recipe type (soups, salads...) and key ingredient in the back too as standard. This sort of stuff makes my head explode and gives me the design twitches (proper medical condition, like).

If you are a person who insists that each recipe is photographed then you will be disappointed in World Food Cafe. I don't mind as much but with unfamiliar food like this I think it would have been helpful to have arranged a shoot to do this as it will encourage people to try the dishes. A picture does speak a thousand words and that is truer in food than anywhere.

Having tried two recipes tonight from the book and they were so good (and yes, so quick and easy too) that I can't wait to try more of them.

The first was the Spicy Peanut and Chickpea soup. Anything got a kick and peanuty is right up my street. Throw in my favourite pulse (chickpeas), leaf (kale) as well as my love of squash and pumpkin and it's a recipe I need in my life. Aside from the inevitable struggle preparing squash this is as easy as it gets yet with rich, warming flavours and really interesting to eat. If you like soup but fancy something a little different then this would be it.

The Toasted Coconut and Honey Pancakes I tried were excellent and despite having to buy two types of rice flour will be something I will make again and again. As with the other recipe, really easy and the rice flours made the pancakes particularly light. I griddled some fresh pineapple to serve them with which was a good match. Baby Foodie would eat like, a hundred of them given half the chance.

This is a great book if you are into World food, I'll be using mine for something interesting mid-week and also the entertain with - no one will ever guess how easy the dishes were to prepare! 

World Food Cafe: Quick and Easy Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott is published by Francis Lincoln and costs £20.00.

I'm giving away a copy of this book to one reader. All you have to do is subscribe to this blog (if you don't already) AND do ONE of the following;
  • leave your name and email address in the comments below
  • email me at thegraphicfoodie(at) with "World Food Comp" in the title
  • Competition closes at GMT midday Friday 11th October 2013. 
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • A winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator. 
  • The winner will be contacted, and prize sent direct the publishers. 
  • The prize is one copy of World Food Cafe. 
  • No part of a prize is exchangeable for cash or any other prize. 
  • The judges’ decision will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Your email details will not be used for any purpose other than to contact the winner and will be disposed over after competition close.

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