New edition of a classic cookbook

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 incarnation. 

The New Vegetarian Cooking for EveryoneSo 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.

3 Comments

  • ellabee  on  3/11/2014 at 12:47 PM

    I have no problem with anniversary reissues of books that are genuinely classics, and 15 years doesn't seem an unreasonably short window for a revision. But as a 20th-century, serif-liking reader and cook who uses the first edition of VCFE all the time, I'm not really in the market for a duplicate-plus. (Though the cover is very appealing.) How does the new one compare with the original in physical size and weight?

  • tsusan  on  3/12/2014 at 10:33 AM

    ellabee - I checked and was surprised by the measurements! The new book is slightly bulkier - maybe by 1/3 inch - but lighter by a few ounces and shorter by a few pages. Different choice of paper I guess! (You don't need coated stock -or as many pages - when there's no photos...)

  • ellabee  on  3/12/2014 at 11:21 AM

    That's excellent news. I was distressed at the gigantism and weight of Vegetable Literacy (coated stock is indeed the culprit, along with pages being unnecessarily tall), and was afraid the new edition of VCFE from Ten Speed would be even worse.

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