Lindsay Nixon, author of the cookbooks The Happy Herbivore and Everyday Happy Herbivore, has come out with her third cookbook, Happy Herbivore Abroad, which doubles as a travelogue of her travels around the globe. The cover of the book, pictured below, gives you a great taste of what to you can expect to see inside this book: delicious food and great photos of Lindsay’s travels.
I was able to ask Lindsay a few questions about her new book. That interview is below:
Traveling anywhere, let alone abroad, is scary for most plant-based eaters, yet you seem to do it with such ease. Why do you think that is?
The first time I traveled — not even internationally! just domestically! after adopting a plant-based diet, I had concerns, fears, reservations — would I find anything to eat? But I was fine. I had to practice a little patience, of course, but after I had that experience under my belt, traveling wasn’t scary anymore. I knew what to expect. You can find plant-based food everywhere. It may not always be the most convenient but it’s there. Of course, I still like to go prepared — plenty of snacks and fall backs in my suitcase, but I don’t worry about food.
Besides your well-established love of travel, what was the inspiration behind Happy Herbivore Abroad?
After I finished Everyday Happy Herbivore, I left for Europe. I literally handed in my manuscript to my publisher then drove to the airport. I’d been living abroad for the past year at that point and thought I’d take another trip to Europe before I returned to the states. I knew that as soon as I got back I’d have to start writing my third cookbook, and I didn’t really know what that was. It wasn’t on my mind — I was ready to vacation! but then the idea presented itself and I went with it.
What difficulties or challenges did you have in creating international-themed recipes?
Initially, I tried to respect the original recipes I brought back with me as much as I could — they are classics, after all! But that proved difficult since the original recipes used meat, dairy, oil, butter — things I don’t eat or cook with… There were also the elusive ingredients to contend with — ingredients that I’m sure are all over the place in, say, Italian markets, but aren’t readily available in the United States (and we all know how much I love “everyday” ingredients!)
Eventually I found a sort of peace where I’d stick to the original recipe closely if I could, but as long as it tasted like the original recipe in the end — I felt it was okay if I used different ingredients and methods to get there. It’s just a new interpretation! I wanted to respect the cultures, traditions and dishes I pulled inspiration from, and I feel I did that with the book and my recipes.
This is your third cookbook. Do you find the process in coming up with recipes to be easier as time goes on?
From a creation standpoint, I think it’s about the same when you balance competing factors. For example, while I have more confidence in the kitchen (and many, many! more hours of knife skills!), I’ve written three books, so I do feel tapped out at times. With my first book, I had hundreds of ideas built up over the years but now I’ve already tried out most of those ideas out! So the creativity isn’t as free flowing. The actual book writing part, though, is so much easier. With each book, putting the whole project together comes together with more ease since I know the drill.
What recipes in the new book are your favorites and what do you like a about them?
Asking a chef which recipe is their favorite is like asking a parent which child is their favorite. What I will say, is that I love all the stories with the recipes. I think that really makes this book stand out — above and beyond the “International” theme.
What is the one dish that you had during your travels that you most wanted to recreate for your book?
I talk about that in the book. I’ll give you a hint, it’s in the soup section!
What do you want to say to those people who aren’t as adventurous in trying international cuisine?
In America, we eat international cuisine all day long, but we’re often unaware of it. Very few foods that are popular in America are originally from America. You’d be surprised how much international food you already eat and love… Plus one of the greatest gifts of cooking, is getting to travel the world without leaving your house. Open yourself to new ideas and new worlds — you’ll be surprised how much of it is familiar, and how much you will love. I used to think “Indian food? ewee, yuck!” but now it’s one of my favorite cuisines — we tend to fear the unknown, but it’s so worth it to become familiar!
If you want to try out this cookbook yourself, Lindsay’s publisher has generously offered up one free copy for me to give away to a lucky reader. All you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment below and tell me what kind of international cuisine you love or would love to learn how to make. I will choose one winner randomly from all entries on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, at 12:00 p.m. central time. This giveaway is open to residents in the United States and Canada only. Be sure to leave a valid email address so that I can contact you if you win. If the winner does not respond to my email within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!