Ingenious, delightfully presented recipes that give a healthy take on French cuisine.



French food can taste good without the animal products and other dietary no-nos, according to this cookbook-cum–gastronomic travelogue.

Connally and Best recount their journey through France from the Champagne region in the northeast down to Marseille on the Mediterranean coast, tasting the regional cuisines and culture and collecting ideas for recipes. Their musings on the tour are haphazard but charming. They toast the prominence of women among the heads of Veuve Clicquot and other legendary Champagne-makers; recollect a year Connally’s family spent in the city of Metz in Lorraine when she was 5, when she contracted a liver ailment that she cured by eating artichokes; and visit Julia Child’s old haunts in Provence, noting that Child’s first recipe was for a shark repellent used during World War II. Each chapter culminates in a selection of regionally inspired recipes the authors reengineer to “achieve positive health returns,” mainly by replacing flesh, dairy, and oils with plant-based ingredients. (Connally reports that a similar diet has conferred many health benefits, including “greater sexual vitality.”) Of the 59 recipes, only three—roasted spatchcocked chicken, coffee-rubbed grilled rib-eye, and sea bass cassis—feature meat or fish, while 43 are straight-up vegan, 35 are gluten free, and 47 are free of even plant oils. The duo contends that their alternatives to animal-product ingredients are flavorful and great tasting in dishes like cultured cashew “cheese” logs spiced with herbs, crepes made with flaxseed “eggs” and French onion soup with a “beef” broth made from vegetable broth. (While sugar is allowed, the book suggests replacing it with monk fruit as a sweetener.) A nutrition table accompanies each recipe with data on calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium content.

Connally and Best present the recipes in a clear, easy-to-follow style. Many of them have an intriguing Gallic spin, such as a blueberry cheesecake decorated to mimic van Gogh’s The Starry Night and a confection called “Tétons de Vénus,” a pair of cakes shaped like breasts complete with blueberry nipples. The book’s sumptuous color photos of food and French towns and landscapes are a visual feast, and the prose is equally evocative. (“The creamy texture coats my tongue,” Connally recalls of a cheesecake at a Provencal restaurant. “Something is building. I can feel it. Then it happens. I am not sure whether the creamy filling is getting my attention, or the dripping blackcurrant sauce bursting with tiny wild blueberries, or the sweet, nutty almond date crust, but it’s magnificent….The only thing more pleasurable would be eating it in the arms of a lover.”) And yet, something seems naggingly un-French about the culinary philosophy behind such recipes as “Vive la France Cheesecake,” which features a filling of “plant-based yoghurt,” ”plant-based cream cheese,” and 300 grams of non-GMO tofu, and sports saturated-fat levels “75% lower than a traditional cheesecake.” Still, readers seeking well-considered vegetarian-ish versions of French classics will love Connally and Best’s cookery.

Ingenious, delightfully presented recipes that give a healthy take on French cuisine.

Pub Date: April 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77-726492-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Connally Best Partners Corp

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.


Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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