Take It Easy, You Can Still Cook.
Review: “RAWvolution” Gourmet Living Cuisine by Matt Amsden.
You know what? Life is brilliant in the Riviera Maya. Three months ago, I jumped into my girlfriend Maru’s Chevy Tornado, a perfect truck/el camino hybrid that I am stunned not to see in the states (It is so popular here VW has even knocked it off) and rolled down to Puerto Morelos.
One of our favorite teachers, Coco from “One Breath of Yoga” was giving one of her
“Yoga and Raw Food in the Jungle” days.
Thirty-five bucks for the whole deal, and we wanted to see if Coco would be a good teacher for our little studio, so we were game.
After an amazing Ashtanga class, a pause for smoothies and then extended mantra chanting, we were happy people. (Coco passed with Flying colors… she is IN at Dharma Yoga Playa.) Then the food came. Raw veggie chilli (p 59) won my heart forever.
There was an amazing pseudo couscous dish made from cabbage wheeled through a food processor. My head was turned. Then Coco busted out some chocolate balls, her adaptation of Matt’s Coconut Fudge Brownies (p 164) and it was time to gather information.
I found myself one of five hanging on Coco’s every word in the kitchen as she told us the source of these goodies. Thankfully, the name “Rawvolution” was easy to remember, but we wrote a couple of the recipes right there, and I went home and made that chili as soon as I could get a mule to smuggle some shoyu into their suitcase for me. (GOD, you guys are lucky up there, ingredient-wise!)
Matt’s book is fantastic. The unique take on it is his own brief story, which he tells in the introduction, and the photo-journaling throughout the cookbook. Beautiful images of the food and people preparing are mixed with photos of Matt and his lady shopping and cooking, which are endearing if, well, perilously close to cheesy for this vegan.
I do admit to feeling as if I’m learning from a well-intentioned friend rather than just consulting a text, and the photos nurtured that. So there you go.
We were completely poleaxed by the great tastes at Coco’s retreat, and I am happy to say that it doesn’t require hours of chanting to make the food delicious. But guess what? I’m more happy to tell you that this stuff is easy to prepare. That’s right. 22 minutes easy, and mindbending results in the kitchen. Plug in your blender, people, this guy makes gourmet doable.
I’m all over this book. It has smears and stains, dog-eared pages, the works. And its not just for the raw people. As a roughly unraw guy, I will make something like the stunning Tomato Basil Soup, and commit the horrifying sin of dumping it over my rice. YUM!
Prepare to buy some stuff, staples in the book include Shoyu (This is a variation of soy sauce, worth finding. I get the “cooked” shoyu because it is about 1/3 the price.) Dulse, and Coconut Water. We are lucky here, coconut water falls from the trees. Don’t even try substituting Braggs or soy sauce for the shoyu, I did that research for you and made some really horrific onion “bread” in the dehydrator. Bleeech. Maybe I shouldn’t be so absolute, I hear myself say to me, that substitution may work in different recipes. Give it a shot and let me know, the onion bread debacle made a shoyu believer out of me.
Side benefit: the book has increased my confidence. I’m at the Ondarte Artists Residency this month, with a big, shared kitchen. My lady and I are known here as the “Sopa People”. We got in a habit of making soup from Matt’s book, and everybody loves these rascals.
When they threw a party last week, we brought ingredients and a blender, and fifteen minutes later, we served to “oohs” and “aaaahs” aplenty. I really felt like a cook, and prep is painless.
The stunning Thai Curry Soup, shown with party clothes on, found on page 56.
Bust this one out.
3 cups coconut water
3 cloves garlic, peeled
one 2-inch ginger chink, peeled
1/4 cup lemon juice (I use lime, 3/16 cup)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup shoyu
1 tbsp curry powder
Combine in a bender, mix until smooth, pour into a bowl and scoop off any foam. Garnish with beautiful things like avocado, red pepper, and cilantro.
Or to POP it, I found this one… dehydrated portabello (buyable) marinated in shoyu for a minute.
You can pick the book up used for about fourteen bucks on Amazon, or if, unlike me, you have a soul, you can pick it up at your local independent booksellers, and help her save up for that whiskerectomy for her cat. Poor kitty! Either way, you can afford the ingredients for a meal and still recoup your investment by not eating out once or twice.
I like the soup section best, obviously, but the book is packed full of good stuff. Make the brownies and roll them into balls, you won’t be sorry there, and do the Almond Halvah while you’re at it. It is easy stuff to prepare, and delicious to eat.
Make friends with a good knife and a cutting board, think of chopping vegetables as meditative and fun, and you might find yourself deeply nurtured by this fountain of yums. Good luck.