Turn­ing over a new leaf

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MICHELLE ROWE

HAVEwe­fi­nally had our fill? Have the many years of multi-course de­gus­ta­tion din­ners, of full-fat, fullthrot­tle feast­ing, taken their toll on our waist­lines and well­be­ing? If this year’s list of best­selling cook­book ti­tles from Dy­mocks is any sign, we’re all suf­fer­ing a nasty case of post-in­dul­gence in­di­ges­tion.

Twore­leases from The Big­gest Loser diet and ex­er­cise guru Michelle Bridges make it into the Top 10, as does David Gille­spie’s Sweet Poi­son Quit Plan Book, a guide to liv­ing a sugar-free life. Mac­ro­bi­otic queen Gwyneth Pal­trow, mean­while, re­veals recipes for the food she eats when she wants to ‘‘lose weight, look good and feel more en­er­getic’’ in It’s All Good.

Anavalanche of health-fo­cused vol­umes has crossed the T&I desk in re­cent months, in­clud­ing chef Michael Moore’s Blood Sugar books, among the se­lect few to present recipes for di­a­bet­ics in a glamorous en­vi­ron­ment. There have also been gluten-free, dairyfree, wheat-free and quite pos­si­bly taste-free com­pi­la­tions too nu­mer­ous to men­tion. Then there are the books to ac­com­pany the diet reg­i­mens, in­clud­ing the fash­ion­able Fast Diet, which in­volves eat­ing nor­mally for five days and starv­ing one­self for two.

An­in­creas­ing num­ber of chefs, how­ever, be­lieve veg­eta­bles are the key to a health­ier fu­ture, for us and the planet. Noma’s Rene Redzepi pre­dicts we’ll be eat­ing far less an­i­mal pro­tein and a lot more fruit and veg­eta­bles in com­ing decades. ‘‘Veg­eta­bles and plants will have a pre­dom­i­nant place in restau­rants over the next 10 years, and that will [fil­ter down into] peo­ple’s homes,’’ he says. ‘‘Once we stop see­ing things from the plant king­dom as sim­ple gar­nish and in­stead as the main com­po­nent of a meal the op­por­tu­ni­ties are huge.’’ The Ja­panese have been work­ing won­ders with veg­eta­bles for cen­turies, but the aver­age Aussie home cook may­baulk at mak­ing a bunch of bras­si­cas, say, the hero in­gre­di­ent of a meal.

Thank good­ness, then, for au­thors such as Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi, whop­uts ve­g­ies front and cen­tre in his cook­books, in such a way that has a whole new gen­er­a­tion of non-vege­tar­i­ans cook­ing largely plant­based meals. There’s no sense of de­pri­va­tion in Ot­tolenghi’s bold and flavour­ful recipes, no de­sire to plonk a lump of beef be­side the braised ar­ti­chokes. If other cook­book au­thors jump on the band­wagon, there’s ev­ery chance Redzepi’s pre­dic­tions may­pan out. Su­san Kurosawa is on as­sign­ment.

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