Lafond offers a menu of recipes to nurture body and soul in this debut cookbook.
The food we eat is not an arbitrary detail of our lives. Rather, it’s the foundation on which our lives are constructed, something that is as metaphysical as it is chemical. So believes Lafond, who writes that “to come to a place of reverence for the daily ritual of preparing and eating I had to learn to recognize what was actually occurring—a divine exchange between living things.” Her philosophy is one part conscientious food culture (eating seasonally and locally; using fresh and organic ingredients; being mindful of dietary restrictions like those regarding gluten, yeast, and candida), one part spiritual consciousness (awareness of and gratitude for the life that goes into and comes from food via the greatest of the Earth’s many cycles), and one part appreciation for complementary flavors. The book is an eclectic mix of recipes spanning the classic (potato gratin with rosemary and sharp cheddar) to the original (“full-meal-deal” Szechuan Brussels sprouts with lamb) to pure comfort food (chocolate-peanut-butter–chip cookies). Many of the dishes—like the sorrel garlic and Gruyere-stuffed tenderloin or the barbecued peach-blueberry crisp—may inspire the reader to start cooking at once. Accompanied throughout by black-and-white illustrations of stems and branches and motivational quotes, the work is both cookbook and manifesto, bidding readers to commune with their food with all the joy and earnestness of a mystic. Lafond writes with an infectious enthusiasm that keeps the pages flipping. Recipes frequently end with a brief paragraph explaining the nutritional properties of the main ingredient or tips for their use: “A good trick for keeping herbs like dill, parsley, and cilantro fresh for a week or more is to put them in a glass of water and cover it with a plastic bag to create a makeshift greenhouse.” The book espouses an open, nondenominational theism that may turn off more secular readers (it concludes with the reminder, “Let us remember that God, Source, Great Mystery, Creator, Universal Intelligence is always willing to meet every need, to fill each void, and to surrender form in order to allow new growth”), but Lafond’s attitude toward the sacredness of food is one that all cooks will be able to appreciate.
A lovely, thoughtful book of nourishing recipes.