This is possibly the definitive raw food book – if you live in Hawaii! I have to admit that I have regularly dived into Renee’s “Living Cuisine”, over the past 6+ years, but it’s not a book I ever recommend to raw food newbies. Why?
Because it’s a weighty tome that’s poorly indexed and I can rarely find the recipe I’m looking for, even if I know it’s there!
That said, this is a brilliant raw food reference book.
Renee knows her stuff
Renee Underkoffler really knows her stuff. If you want to remind yourself about how to make raw cheese or exactly how long each type of sprout needs pre-soaking, then it’s an excellent offline source – if you can find what you’re looking for.
There’s plenty of detail
The level of detail in each of the chapters is impressive and enlightening, as well as inspiring.
She’s not going to judge you
I also found it really refreshing that she’s not a “raw food purist” – she accepts that some foods are more palatable if (lightly) cooked. She doesn’t try make you feel guilty about not wanting to go 100% raw.
Often impossible to find what you’re looking for
It is possibly one of the most appallingly badly indexed & referenced books I have ever read. It’s really difficult to find the recipes you’re looking for, even if you can remember what the page looked like, the last time you saw it.
No pictures or photos!
There’s a total absence of photos. It’s 400 pages of tightly-written text, with a few tables thrown in. Raw food often looks very different to the ‘cooked food’ that most of us were brought up on, so photos would have really helped us figure out if we were ‘getting it right’, with the recipes. It would give the reader more confidence and help them know what to expect. Plus we all know that recipe books with photographs inspire us so much more than just words. The absence of pictures – not a single one – other than the cover. Not even a line-drawn sketch.
I know that photos add to the cost of producing a book, but surely one of this nature and quality of content deserves, nay, NEEDS to be illustrated?
Heavily reliant on imported delicacies
This book’s recipes rely heavily on ingredients available in Hawaii – fair enough, if you live near there.
But for lil’ ol’ me over here in the UK, it means air freighting expensive ingredients and pretending I don’t care about the environmental impact.
Many UK seasonal ingredients aren’t mentioned at all, so following the recipes requires many ethical compromises.
Renee is an expert in her field, as I said. The concerns I had are primarily with the publishers and the editors.
A book of this nature has to appeal to people, to get them to make the leap into trying raw food, which is why pictures would have helped so much. Photographs are a basic expectation most people have from a book about food, especially at this price point. When it’s hundreds of pages of just text, with minimal indexing of recipes, it makes it hard to work your way around and you have to be a determined reader. It’s like a detailed text book, rather than a guide to make the journey into raw food easier.t
That said, if you want the detail, it’s in there and worth trawling through!
Have you read this book? What do you think of it? Care to share your opinion via the comments box?