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Vegan Fusion World Cuisine - review by

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When we came across this gorgeous hardcover cookbook in 2004, it inspired a trip to the beautiful island of Kauai.  We found a rental within walking distance of the then thriving Blossoming Lotus restaurant (voted best restaurant on the island).  That may have been a delicious mistake as we ate there most nights and had leftovers for lunch most days!  So much for cooking in our apartment rental!  The book is now available in paperback only and, thankfully, it still has all the beautiful photography of food, serene locales and peoples of the world.  The book is also peppered with quotations in support of the World Fusion/unity ideals of the title.  Well thought out introductory sections such as “Why Vegan?” and “Healing Ourselves, Healing The Planet” make for good and instructive reading.

There is a well documented section that addresses vegan food preparations and storage.  This is important for keeping and preparing healthy, nutritious foods.  This section also contains quick recipes for snacks and healthy alternatives to common foods. The accompanying resource guide covers not only vegan education resources and living foods but organic and sustainability resources and environmental groups as well.

Among my favorites from this cookbook are “Bogart’s Moroccan Tempeh” and “Casbah Couscous Pilaf”, which the authors recommend to be served together.  The combination of flavors and colors (pomegranate seeds, kalamata olives, tomatoes and juice, almonds, raisins and orange juice are just a part) make these a feast for the eyes and palate.  Another recipe sure to please is the “Big Momma Freedom Chocolate Cake”.  This is a delicious combination of moist chocolate cake and chocolate/coffee/not too sweet frosting.

Another delicious option is “The Whole Enchilada Casserole”.  We had this originally at the restaurant and later prepared it at home.  The presentation at the restaurant was beautiful.  The flavors and textures, both at the restaurant and at home, were amazing.  This dish is very delicious and well worth the effort to prepare for yourself or your guests.

Though the Kauai home of the Blossoming Lotus, has closed, the second location run by Bo Rinaldi still thrives in Portland, Oregon.  The theme of healthy, Vegan Fusion cooking continues through cooking classes in places from Belize to Portland by co-author/chef Mark Reinfeld.  Mark has also authored an outstanding series of cookbooks in the “30-minute Vegan” series (30-minute Vegan, 30-minute Vegan Taste of the East, 30-minute Vegan Taste of Europe and more).  His recipes make use of a world of flavors which makes for delicious combinations.  That is one of the best parts of this cookbook.  The myriad of flavors from different ethnic cuisines meld into delightful dishes.

This book is so pleasing to the eye that it could easily be a coffee table book.  The foreword by primatologist Jane Goodall, sets the tone that the rest of the book delivers.  This is a book you should own.

Glenn McCarthy (3/31/2014)