Big Love for Cooking in Passionate Vegetarian
Review by Gillian Kendall
Lots of people are passionate about food, but it doesn’t show in their writing. Many cookbooks read well, but you can tell the chef hired a ghost writer — or had a good editor! Rarely does a cookbook simmer with excitement and bubble with gastronomic personality, but Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon  brings the author’s skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm to a full rolling boil.
Passionate Vegetarian won a James Beard award, and the Chicago Tribune called Dragonwagon “â€¦one of America’s most prolific and versatile writersâ€¦ an earthy, red-headed yarn-spinning woman,” but I found this book in an odd way.
Years ago, the author attended a writing workshop I was teaching, and her story-telling fascinated a roomful of people. I noticed her voice, her red hair, and of course her name — Crescent Dragonwagon! — but I had no idea then that she’d owned a famous inn (Dairy Hollow House) and had authored more than 50 books. About a year later, I was helping a friend clear out an old house, and I came across a fat, bright-yellow paperback cookbook with my student in a Carmen-Miranda pose beneath a vegetable hat.
Passionate Vegetarian Healthy Foodie Fun
Heavy, well packed with blue text and illustrations, Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon  invites reading about as well as cooking its 1000 recipes. Indeed, the first chapter is called “Invitation” and begins, “There is a feast waiting for you here. Breathe it in.” You’re entering the world of Dragonwagon, where empanadas become deliciously meatless, where eggplants shape-shift into fans, where some of the desserts are organized by fruit (Apples, Bananas, Blueberries, Cherriesâ€¦to Persimmons and Rhubarb).
This tome doesn’t merely present recipes with instruction for food preparation. It celebrates, gives the history of, and tells stories about every dish and condiment (viz., “These Leaves are Made for Stuffing: Chard” and “The Great Ice Cube Tip”). In some cases the introduction uses more words than the recipe, as in “Chou Chou’s Simple â€˜Yer Cheating Heart’ Salsa,” which comprises 3 or 4 ingredients buzzed in a blender. Somehow, just reading about these dishes is as much fun as eating them in Crescent’s company – or almost.
Reviews from Well-Fed Followers of the Passionate Vegetarian
Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon  inspires a verbose and well-fed following. Here are a few reviews:
From Library Journal
For many years, Dragonwagon and her husband ran an inn in the Ozarks of Arkansas, and two previous cookbooks, The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook and Dairy Hollow House Soups and Breads: A Country Inn Cookbook, grew out of that experience. Despite having been a vegetarian for decades, Dragonwagon did not feature vegetarian fare at the inn or in her earlier books. This big, exuberant book marks her foray into the cooking closest to her heart, with more than 1000 recipes, from “Welcoming Hors d’Oeuvres” to “Just Desserts.” Dragonwagon is indeed a passionate vegetarian, and adjectives like sensual and voluptuous appear in many of her recipe notes. Her food is boldly seasoned and draws from a variety of cuisines. In addition to the recipes, she includes hundreds of boxes and sidebars on ingredients and myriad other subjects; the vegetable chapter, for example, features an A-Z guide to her favorites. There is also a chapter called “Quick Fix,” with recipes and suggestions for no-fuss meals. Many of the other recipes offer suggestions for easy variations. Deborah Madison’s huge Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone came first, and it and Dragonwagon’s book cover similar ground by virtue of having the same topic, but there is little overlap in terms of recipes. With vegetarian cooking more popular than ever, most libraries will want Passionate Vegetarian, too. Highly recommended. â€¨Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
5.0 out of 5 stars Destined to Become THE Cookbook of the 21st Century November 15, 2002
By Poet in the City
Vegetarian diets are becoming more popular as nutritional concerns arise and environmental awareness increases, and vegetarian cookbooks are a perfect gift for anyone who has a new domicile or simply loves to eat. In fact, Crescent Dragonwagon has crafted a cookbook so generous and intriguing that I think it would inspire anyone to roll up their sleeves and create a meal. Vegetarian meals are not for vegetarians only anymore!
Dragonwagon takes into account the time and budgetary constraints under which the typical reader may be living and gives wonderful suggestions about how making a little extra of one recipe will be such a time-saver when creating a new dish later in the week. She gives all kinds of anecdotal information about the recipes. I am reading the book cover-to-cover, honestly, because it’s so interesting and fun. It conveniently stays flat while you’re cooking from it, too — amazing that all cookbook publishers haven’t caught on to this trick yet.
This is the most accessible cookbook I have ever read, and at over 1100 pages and 1000+ recipes, the cover price is an incredible bargain. I predict that The Passionate Vegetarian will become the cooking tome passed from generation to generation and will have a venerated place in kitchens all over the world.
More Reviews for the Passionate Vegetarian
You can see nearly 100 more reviews from ‘foodies” like you and me – which give an average of 4.5 of 5 stars — Just click on the link for Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon .
Where to Purchase the Passionate Vegetarian
But no review, no matter how juicy, can match the fun of the book itself. I heartily recommend you buzz on over to Amazon  and get the Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon  and with a Prime Membership free shipping of course for those 1100 pages. This is one invitation anyone with a passion for food will want to accept.