Yes, it’s another cookbook this week! This time I’m reading Impatient Foodie: 100 Delicious Recipes for a Hectic, Time-Starved World, the premise here being that thoughtful, sustainable, and healthy food can be easy, fast, and fun. Well, that all sounds right up my alley, so let’s see what we have here…
The basic backstory
Impatient Foodie grew out of the blog of the same name, and here’s the backstory: Former model Elettra Wiedemann’s need to create nutritious meals (that still kept her fitting into sample sizes) later evolved into a graduate program at the London School of Economics, where she focused on food systems, public health, and sustainability. Wiedemann then married her personal experience, her studies, and her interest in the slow food movement to create Impatient Foodie, a mashup between the ideals of the slow food movement and the realities of our fast-paced lives.
The basic bookstory
What’s this impatient foodie business about? From the introduction:
My goal with Impatient Foodie is three-fold: 1) To serve up Bon Appetit-style meals in Buzz-Feed time. 2) To encourage people to shop at farmer’s markets whenever possible, to cook at home, and to engage with their food in a time when home cooking is on a downward trend across the nation… 3) To have Impatient Foodie be part of an honest conversation between the leaders of the Slow Food movement and those of us living in cities, doing our best to participate, but feeling a little, well, stretched.
I would have liked to see more discussion of these goals beyond the recipes themselves, but you can read a lot more of Wiedemann’s thinking both on her blog and in her articles on Refinery 29. After a brief introduction, notes, and list of kitchen staples, Impatient Foodie jumps right into the recipes — which are broken into sections by main ingredient (asparagus, radishes, strawberries…) that you might, say, pick up at a farmer’s market. Most are vegetable–centered, many are vegetarian (or vegan), and all seem quick, simple, and straightforward.
I wanted to love this book more than I did
I love the idea of this book, but must confess that I don’t love the book itself. It’s not that Impatient Foodie is a bad cookbook; it’s that I wished for more: The recipes here look decent, but only a couple out of the 100 recipes here stood out as “must make this” ideas. And, although the recipes are straightforward enough, I wasn’t particularly keen on the food styling: All dishes are photographed from above on brightly colored backgrounds with stark shadows. (This is of course a stylistic choice, but one I personally found distracting.)
Another minor quibble throughout Impatient Foodie is that a number of recipes call for small amounts of products you might have to buy for just that recipe, such as 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 1/2 tsp truffle oil, or 1 Tbsp anchovy paste. (Speaking of which, why anchovy paste? I’d also like some discussion here on what qualities ingredients like this add to a recipe.) I find this jarring since in other places Wiedemann talks about having bought an ingredients such as five-spice powder for a cookbook recipe, then never using it again. Readers would benefit if, say, she’d talk about how to use the rest of a can or tube or container in other recipes, or how to freeze or otherwise preserve the leftover ingredients for later — but she only does this for a couple of items.
What recipes am I intending to make, though?
I bookmarked her impatient baked enchiladas recipe as a possibility — clearly, because: enchiladas — and she has actually posted a Facebook video that you can watch on how to make this one. (I’m not keen on the canned enchilada sauce here, though, so will likely either use my own homemade enchilada sauce or jazz up some tomato sauce with additional seasonings.) The spiced kale shakshuka also seems intriguing, and I still have quite a bit of garden kale to use up this year, but it doesn’t stand out from other shakshuka recipes I’ve looked at online.
Impatient Foodie is worth browsing through in a bookstore or at the library to see what recipes look intriguing to you, but I don’t see enough meat here (no pun intended) to make it a worthwhile addition to your cookbook collection.
What are you reading this week?
What have you been reading lately? Tell us about it! ? And, you can browse all the What’s Rachel Reading? book reviews here.