Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Ikaria by Diane Kochilas


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ikaria is mythical, beautiful, enigmatic—and, as we learned after reading the New York Times article about it, a place where residents live unaccountably long lives. Part cookbook, part travelogue, filled with gorgeous photography, stunning recipes, and interviews with locals, and packed with the often quirky secrets to a long life that Ikarians are spoon-fed at birth, Ikaria is award-winning author Diane Kochilas’s ethno-culinary paean to this magical island.
Here, Kochilas will marry lore to lesson and recipe to interview: we’ll meet a 101-year-old weaver—the best on the island—and taste the combinations of herbs that he cooks with and that he believes give him life. We’ll learn about the life-giving benefits of delicious salads both raw and cooked, the gorgeous breads and savory pies that are a part of every meal, the bean dishes that are passed down through generations, and the seafood that is at the root of the Ikarian culinary culture. filled with mouthwatering recipes and remarkable stories, this book will introduce many Americans to food as life, as only the Ikarians know it.

MY TAKE:
I've heard about Ikaria before, so I was curious about this book.

In Ikaria, readers learn more about Ikaria, its culture and its food. Lots of recipes for Ikarian food are also included so that readers can try cooking them at home.

This book is what I imagine the child of a magazine and a cookbook would be like. The start of each chapter has a short essay on Ikarian food, and each chapter has plenty of information on Ikarian ingredients and cooking techniques. There's even a lexicon of edible greens and wild herbs.

The food photography feels lush and makes it seem like they were taken during an Ikarian feast or at your typical Ikarian home.

Everything about this book really does make you crave for Ikarian food. The recipes look delicious, and if you're a vegetarian or have your own garden, you'll probably be pleased to find out that a vast majority of these recipes feature vegetables. There are meat and seafood recipes too, of course, mostly of the goat and fish variety.

I think I've only tried Greek cuisine once or a few times before. There are Greek and Mediterranean restaurants in the Philippines, of course, but my family members like other cuisine more so we tend to skip them. Also, most supermarkets don't really have a lot of Greek ingredients in stock. You'll have to go to specialty stores for those. I think unless you live in a particularly cosmopolitan city, you'd have to go to a specialty store for several of the ingredients used in the recipe too. That's to be expected, I guess, since the book does try to be as authentic as possible.

If you believe you can get your hands on some Greek ingredients (like Greek feta or Greek kefalotyri) or you're pretty good at substituting one ingredient for another, by all means, try this book. I think it's worth a read.

Thanks to NetGalley and Rodale Books for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. You learn a lot about Ikaria and its culture.
  2. You learn a lot of interesting cooking tips and trivia.
  3. The food looks delicious and healthy. 

THE BAD:

  1. Some of the ingredients may be hard to get. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You're a fan of Greek or Ikarian cuisine.
  2. You are a vegetarian.
  3. You want to make healthier eating choices. 

RATING:
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