by Holly Davis (Ten Speed Press)
didn't log onto a macrobiotics website. You didn't pick up a copy
of The Macrobiotic Way at your local bookstore. And you didn't
have miso soup for breakfast, as do many who practice macrobiotics
(the lifestyle that balances yin and yang whole foods for a potential
life of peace and harmony). But if you read Nourish by Holly
Davis, you just may have found yourself fed some of the benefits
of macrobiotics without even realizing it.
is a Brit who made it big in Australia as a health foods restaurateur
and caterer. Her initial leap into the whole "whole foods" arena
was via macrobiotics and she's since developed an intriguing cuisine
called "Real Food" that deliciously sprouted from those roots, while
incorporating other health-food tenets and ingredients along the
you'll be taught not only how to make your own miso soup (miso is
soybean paste which has been fermented for anywhere from a month
to several years with sweet or salty flavor resulting accordingly)
and dishes like miso and ginger pumpkin tartlets. Seaweed and sea
vegetables are also a staple of the macrobiotic diet and, therefore,
you'll find a recipe for a delicious dip made with arame (a sea
vegetable); as well as one for chives, sesame oil and chile oil;
and a wonderful soup made with wakame (another sea vegetable), sweet
corn and miso.
la the style of the macrobiotic diet where fruits and vegetables
are generally eaten only when in season and harvested from nearby
sources, recipes are categorized by season. The pumpkin recipe and
another for roast vegetable-pecan pie including pumpkin, sweet potato
and eggplant, for instance, are designated for autumn-winter. A
tart prepared with asparagus and tofu-cheese (a cheeselike substance
that's made from tofu) is for spring-summer, as are the memorable
garlic pickled mushrooms. (Recipes, however, are not organized by
season, but rather by categories such as "soup." Therefore, for
those trying to create menus by season, a seasonal index would be
you weren't familiar with macrobiotics before picking up Davis'
book, though, you might not even know you were getting a taste of
it. Virtually the only direct reference she makes to it (other than
her book jacket flap mentioning that she studied it in Japan) is
a few words in the introduction: "They introduced me to macrobiotics,
an Eastern philosophy that describes the order of the universe and
offers ideas such as 'you are what you eat.'"
so she's not a poet when it comes to the diet that some hold so
sacred as to treat it much like a religion. But she is a poet in
the kitchen when it comes to creating the aforementioned recipes.
And her Real Food concept broadens to include other gourmet health
foods as well which, although tagged by season, don't necessarily
adhere to the yin and yang balance of food followed in a strict
macrobiotic diet. But, boy does it taste good. Steamed ginkgo nut
custards with salmon is a masterpiece flavored with shiitake mushrooms,
green onions and mirin as well as the delicately sweet nuts from
China. Green tea noodles and rosemary with baby octopus is smooth
and pungent at the same time. As
she does often in the book, proving her versatility, Davis travels
to Morocco for a succulent pheasant and preserved lemon casserole
on a bed of steamed almond couscous.
Davis knows there's no reason to skip dessert. She offers a number
of delicious choices including green tea gel with gingered pineapple
made with agar-agar (clear gelatin made from sea vegetables) and
palm sugar; and rosemary lemon syrup cakes featuring golden raisins,
toasted pine nuts and almond meal.
to all the health-food and ethnic ingredients sprinkled throughout
the recipes, you may end up doing some of the shopping in specialized
markets, but if you are interested in out-of-the-ordinary healthful
dishes with out-of-this-world flavor, the trip is worth it.
Corn and Wakame Soup
Garlic Pickled Mushrooms
(Updated: 12/16/08 SB)