Vegetariana: A Rich Harvest of Wit, Lore, and Recipes by Nava Atlas
When Vegetariana was first published in 1984, its literary quotations and whimsical illustrations inspired the reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly to predict that this book by this then-unknown author “should prove itself a classic.”
Now, decades later, Vegetariana by Nava Atlas has long been out of print, but is still beloved by many who own splattered, well-worn, and well-loved copies (the author still gets regular e-mails to this effect).
Committed to the ideal of a more plant-based way of life, Nava’s books, from Vegetariana onward, are known for their accessibility and easy-to-accomplish recipes.
Vegetariana by Nava Atlas on Amazon
Vegetariana’s quirky art and design tap into a nostalgia both for beautifully illustrated books and simple, hearty food. While it may not have the kind of lush photography and jazzed-up cuisine of contemporary cookbooks, it does have a kind of soul and wit that appealed to its first generation of readers and will surely appeal to a new generation.
Here’s a quote that captures this sentiment perfectly, from an Amazon.com reviewer:
I grew up with my mom cooking quite a few recipes from this book — the pictures especially bring back vivid memories as I cook from it. There are many recipes she never made that I am discovering now. The recipes are hearty & challenge the idea of vegetarian “rabbit food.”
More than just a cookbook, Vegetariana has been recognized for its artistic and literary merits. Several of its original drawings are now a part of several public and private collections, including The Wichita Museum, The Weatherspoon Museum, and The New York Public Library’s collection of drawings and prints.
Interspersed with recipes for soups, salads, grains, legumes, pasta, vegetables, breads, and desserts, are witty food quotes by literary notables like Mark Twain, Ludwig Von Beethoven, and Thomas Hardy, plus lots of food lore and folk beliefs from many cultures and eras. Along with a brief history of vegetarianism, this unique book adds up to a celebration of all things veg. It’s a great gift for longtime vegetarians, vegans, and veggie aficionados.
“The Pythagoreans make a point of prohibiting the use of beans, as if thereby the soul and not the belly was filled with wind!” — Cicero, De Divination, (44 BC)
Praise for the original edition
“Savory recipes, witty anecdotes, delightful aphorisms, and fascinating food folklore … a stunning visual feast. The author’s illustrations render this a very special and unusual book.” — Publishers Weekly
“A one-woman masterpiece celebrating vegetarianism, it’s an offbeat, lighthearted look at the lore of vegetarian foods, well as a compilation of good, appetizing recipes.” — Detroit News
“A treasure. Atlas’s historical journeys are whimsical and memorable. Good, simple recipes, enough to form an entire repertoire of wholesome, ethnic cuisine.” — Vegetarian Times
“Aside from the great recipes, this charming cookbook provides an overview of vegetarianism.” — Glamour magazine
“A cookbook that is as much a pleasure to look at as it is to cook from.” — Washington Jewish Week
- Learn more about Nava’s books.
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