Mary McCartney does not play down who her famous parents are – open her book, Food (Sterling Epicure 2013) and you’ll find a photo of baby Mary with mom Linda McCartney and another with father Paul McCartney – but that is not why you should buy her book. Food is simply a no fuss approach to vegetarian cooking – as if there was never a question of taking meat out of dishes and adjusting them. This is good British food that would be right at home in California. The emphasis is on fresh ingredients and plenty of color, texture, and flavor.
Food is as much a book of Mary’s photography as it is a cookbook. There are plenty of sensuous photographs of ingredients, farm life, kids licking bowls, and the finish dishes. There is a marvelous photograph of a vegetable stand that reminds one of Arcimboldo – with carrots, radishes, garlic, and Swiss chard making a memorable geometric assemblage.
In a chapter on Soups, Salads, and Starters, a little girl in a smock stained with whatever she is eating, is busy licking her bowl clean, while another bowl stands ready for a second act. Roasted Butternut Squash and Rosemary Soup (p. 63) is a good standard, while Hearty Quinoa and White Bean Soup (p. 64) is full of fresh herbs – rosemary, oregano and thyme. The quinoa reappears in Super Quinoa Salad (p. 103) mixed with carrots in a Dijon mustard dressing. Mary likes eggplants – and uses them as a vehicle for other flavors in Eggplant Wraps (p. 81) in which the fried eggplant slices folded over spinach, pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, and cheddar, or in Cheese and Eggplant Oven Bake (p. 110) in which the eggplant is layered with tomatoes and more cheese. There are traditional British dishes like Shepherd’s Pie (p. 134), Cauliflower Cheese (p. 141), and Yorkshire Puddings (p. 163).
As long as you like plenty of cheese and the occasional vegetarian meat substitute, this is a fun cookbook to explore, as much for the recipes as the photographs. And if you happen to have a friend who is both foodie and Sir Paul McCartney fan – then you’ve found the perfect cookbook.