3 out of 5 stars.
I would like to thank Watkins Publishing for a free ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.
Firstly, I would like to apologise to Ms Hartvig as, when I started reading this book, I was going to pan it for being ‘just another spice book’… as I’ve been reading and reviewing a lot of them lately and that is just how this book starts too – the same old same old formatting meant I almost gave up on it.
Especially when I mistakenly thought she was going to say cinnamon was the same as cassia… and I am still a little put out by Cocoa being the same as Cacao, rather than a more refined version of it, but we won’t go there either – this is an apology after all! 😉
So, Ms Hartvig, I am sorry. This ISN’T just another cookie cutter of a spice book… it just starts out that way. But if the reader can get past that first section and get into some of the simply MAGICAL spice blends Ms Hartvig then shares… let alone the recipes… all is forgiven.
It was like trudging through a boring little forest and then coming across a clearing filled with beauty, wonder and delight! I am so glad I kept reading.
And, though I am sad to say this as I don’t feel cook books should NEED pictures, I do feel some of the dull monotony I felt within this book was due to the lack of pictures. Being a novice herbalist, I enjoy seeing images of the herbs and spices in question. And it would have lifted the whole book to have images of the spices, blends and some of the recipes throughout. Just to add some colour and to break up the writing some more. Again, this is just my opinion and as a reference book and for a true cook – pictures seriously aren’t required. Have faith in your own cooking skills, rather than need to compare your end result to the picture in the book!
Other than that, the formatting of the work and recipes was clear and easy to follow. The measurements throughout the recipe section were in both metric and imperial and all in all I adored the recipe section and it really turned around my opinion of the book!
Would I recommend this book to others?
I’m honestly not too sure. There are some GREAT recipes in the second half of the book and they are very clear and easy to follow… but I do feel some people may be put off by the lack of images. It’s all vanity I know, but it’s just a feeling I get.
Would I buy this book for myself?
Again, not too sure. There were some jaw dropping recipes I’ve not see before, some old favourites done a little differently and enough in there to pique my interest… but whether it would encourage me to buy it, rather than borrow it from a library? I really can’t answer that.
In summary: Don’t be put off by the first half of the book or the lack of images. The spice blends and recipe section is well worth a look and full of some incredibly tempting food ideas laid out in very clear and precise – easy to follow – instructions. A good little spice cook book seeming to be hidden in a rather mediocre spice reference book. 😉
Until next time,