Something doesn't taste right here....
I'm aware that this blog comes across as quite ranty. It's very much a last minute thing. You see, I had promised myself (and our readers) to either review another good book, extol the virtues of chiropractic adjustments for novelists' creativity, or talk about a work in progress. After starting a piece on random thoughts about writing, my disappointment was just too hard to contain. And what had let me down? A simple cookbook.
While piling the trolley high with herbaceous perennials at the garden centre, I noticed a book on a shelf in the reading section. It was one of those impulse buys, the type of item you buy alongside flowered wellies, fancy rakes, indoor scents and fine jams – stuff you don't really need, but which look good at the time in the shop. Given that the garden centre price was £3.99, in comparison with the publisher's price of £12.99, this should have set alarm bells ringing.
It's common knowledge that 99 per cent of those who buy vegetarian cookbooks are in fact vegetarian. Not semi-vegetarians, demi-vegetarians or the pescetarians, or indeed those who eat chicken and call themselves vegetarian, but those who adhere to the diet religiously.
When we arrived home, I perused the book over a light (vegetarian) lunch of rocket, potato salad and radish. The (badly printed) introductory illustrative photograph which caught my attention was a bowl of soup, and hanging over the rim of the bowl appeared to be these strange pink things.
'Oh that must be an exotic vegetable I've never tasted,' I muttered to myself. 'It looks like an elongated lychee.'
If it's vegetarian, and exotic, then I'm up for trying it.
However upon closer inspection, it became clear that the pink hangers-on were in fact prawns. Yuk. I gagged and flicked over. Then I came across a recipe which looked quite tasty. I read through the ingredients, realising the cupboard at Number Fifteen would yield all that was needed. Then to my utmost horror, the writer suggested serving 'with a selection of cold meats, such as chicken.
Something didn't taste right here! I was horrified and slammed the book shut. So this is a vegetarian book with meat-eating undertones?
The meat references didn't stop there - there seemed to be a massive reliance on gelatine in a lot of the recipes too. Granted, one can buy a vegetarian version, but it didn't state this in the book. Likewise with Parmesan cheese - and if a newbie veggie was buying these ingredients he or she might inadvertently purchase the wrong version, believing it to be vegetarian. Grrrr.
What should I do?
A) Write to the publisher, pointing out these errors.
B) Curse the editor and shove it under the bed.
C) Take it back and demand a refund as it's not a 'vegetarian' cook book. I mean, if I bought a Mills and Boon, I'd expect it to be Mills and Boon, not an obscure literary masterpiece and neither would I expect to find Ulysses inside.
OR D) Throw it out.
No wonder the book was £3.99.
Pic: a prawn - no thanks, I'll have a beanburger.