Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone first came out
in 1998, quickly attaining canonical status among both the
meat-free and the pro-vegetable. 10 years later, there was an
anniversary edition, and now, only 6 years after that,
there's a revised edition.
The 10-year anniversary edition, to my mind, didn't have much to
add to the original; I concluded it was mostly a marketing move, to
catch a newer demographic and capitalize on the
always-self-reinventing health and wellness movement in its latest
So when I saw there was a new VCFE
this year, my initial reaction was one of skepticism. Was
this merely a ploy to maintain or increase the book's market share?
I thought it warranted a closer look. As it turns out,
The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone seems
to be the real thing: a comprehensive revision, preserving some of
the spirit of the original while making significant efforts to
accommodate the way we've changed as cooks.
So what does a true revision accomplish? Well, at
the most superficial level, there are usually design changes.
The new book has a more dynamic, punchier, less italicized
and serif-fy page design (think Gourmet Today rather
than Essentials of Italian
Cooking - some time I'm going to write about the
21st-century shift from italics to bold). It has
mini-table of contents at the opening of chapter- another fairly
recent innovation. And it has zero photographs or drawings! a
move that suggests we're getting away from our dependence on the
full-color recipe shot.
More substantively, there's a much wider range of
ingredients, particularly from the southeast Asian pantry (we have
wider access to middle Eastern staples, too, though that's not
heavily reflected in this book). There are more varieties of
produce, like purple broccoli. There's more tempeh, and lots
more whole grains. Recipes are marked "vegan" where
applicable (though there's no special attention to gluten-free or
slow-cooker, which you might also expect these days). VCFE
was, originally, more of a reference work - basic, "how to cook"
versions of recipes that would get you to an edible, basically
palatable result. All in all, the new recipes are more
diverse, more creative, and more interesting. On the
other hand, they may date quicker.
But if they do, you can be sure the solution, in the form
of a snazzy new re-issue, will be at hand in 6-10 years.