Review

Frugavore

How to Grow Your Own, Buy Local, Waste Nothing and Eat Well.

Frugavore

Product details

Product name: Frugavore: How to Grow Your Own, Buy Local, Waste Nothing and Eat Well

Reviewer: Kate Arneman

Author: Arabella Forge

Publisher: Black Inc.

Price: $29.95

G Rating:

5

With this manifesto of peasant wisdom and recipes translated for a 21st century audience, Aussie nutritionist Arabella Forge shows how eating organic, flavoursome, nourishing food is possible on even the tightest budget. Yes, an organic chook from an inner-city store costs more than a factory-farmed one from the supermarket. But there are ways around this: buying direct from the farmer; buying in bulk; using the carcass to make stock. Using this logic, Forge offers practical advice for stocking the larder, fridge and freezer, growing your own produce and preparing it.

Most cookbooks focus on what happens in the kitchen to the exclusion of the vastly bigger story about what we eat. Frugavore addresses the whole cycle of food production and consumption. There’s information on how to access alternative ways of sourcing food: farmgate sales, buyers’ clubs and co-ops, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture and community gardens. There’s a chapter on setting up a vegie patch from scratch, with ‘recipes’ for potting mix and ideas on how to recycle food scraps in worm farms or compost heaps. Another chapter gives advice on keeping chooks in your backyard.

Then there are the recipes, divided into chapters on eggs and poultry, soups and stocks, meat, wholegrains, beans, lentils and pulses, seafood, preserves, desserts. The dishes are unfussy, nutritious though not necessarily low in fat, and showcase the quality of the produce. Many are the kind of meal you can make from what’s on hand, rather than needing to go a shopping expedition first: for example, a wonderfully simple but delectable potato and nutmeg omelette.

Recipes such as chicken and leek pie, fish broth with lemon and rice and apple and nectarine shortcrust tart have an irresistible nostalgic appeal but Forge is also unafraid to champion some decidedly unfashionable ingredients such as mutton, offal and sweetbreads.

Forge teaches cooking classes with an emphasis on traditional techniques at CERES Environmental Park and Organic Wholefoods in Melbourne. This experience comes through in the way she gives such pertinent advice in Frugavore about, for example, how to ask your butcher for stock bones or chicken feet. She acknowledges that the Frugavore approach requires careful planning, though not more time overall, and explains the logistics of buying in bulk and making and freezing large quantities of stock. There’s also a section on the applications of bicarb, vinegar and other inexpensive natural kitchen cleaners.

Personal anecdotes give the recipes context and the overall tone is warm, inviting and personable. Referring to her saffron stracciatella, Forge writes: “Even if you are exhausted, hung-over or only have one functioning hand, you can make this soup. It’s like having a fluffy rug and a hot water bottle, only tastier.”

There are cookbooks filled with glossy, gorgeously styled photographs of dinner party dishes, which are more likely to be admired and enjoyed for their aesthetics than cooked from. Frugavore has no such photographs – as a compendium of information, tips and advice it’s much more about function than form. It’s the kind of book that is designed to become dog-eared from years of looking up that recipe for chicken stock, and, propped up next to the stove, splotched with olive oil and quince jelly.

Frugavore is printed on FSC- and PEFC- certified paper sourced from sustainably managed plantations.

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