08 March 2013

My ghost is all full up

I was recently contacted by the publishers of Feeding the Hungry Ghost by Ellen Kanner, inquiring if I'd be interested in an advance copy to review.  From the title alone, I (like many people probably did) thought the book would be in some way religious.  I don't talk much about religion here, and there's a simple reason for that - I don't have any.  I grew up in a religious family (and my parents are still very strong Christians), but I also grew up in a family that encouraged me to observe the world and draw my own conclusions.  As it turns out, my conclusions about the world, the universe, and everything are currently incongruous with the tenets of religion.  That said, I generally don't begrudge other people their religion (and I sadly have many friends who do).  I think this might be related to my veganism - I have very different beliefs about food and food-related ethics than most people I know, but I expect people to respect my beliefs about food (as I respect theirs).  So it's easy for me to understand that some people have different beliefs about religion, and it's easy for me to know how important it is to respect that.  This long, rambling introduction is just to say that I wasn't immediately put off by the thought that this book might have religious undertones.  So I immediately responded in the affirmative, and I received this lovely new book in time for a recent trip to Tennessee for a wedding (congratulations, Rick and Elizabeth!).

I settled into my window seat and cracked open the book, not sure what to expect.  Just a few pages in, I felt like I had been invited into an intimate conversation with the author - no preaching, no proselytizing, no pontificating.  We talked about her relationships, we talked about her travels, we talked about her childhood.  Admittedly, the conversation was pretty one-sided, but it was still delightful.  I nodded knowingly when she recounted the story of the Stone Soup.  I giggled like a school child when she told me about trying to induce an orgy with a cardamom-laced apple crumble.  And I teared up when she talked about the death of a dear friend.

Without giving away any of the plot twists, the hungry ghost refers to the Tao concept of people who are so desperate and clutchy that they are hungry even beyond the grave.  But you don't have to be dead to be a hungry ghost!  People are hungry, too - for food, sure, but also for love and meaning and human connections.  This book aims to feed your inner hungry ghost, with both physical and emotional nourishment.

* We'd better feed this hungry ghost before he eats the cat ... *
In addition to the stories, Ellen (after all that sharing, we're on a first name basis) offers about fifty recipes, from simple dishes like Spring Pea Puree to more exotic combinations like Pumpkin, Poblano, and Spinach Tacos.   After returning home, fully in love with this book, I hoped to make many of the recipes so that I could report back to you all about how amazing and delicious everything is.  But, of course, life got in the way. And by life, I mean work.  But I'm saved for now - if you want to see what sort of recipes are in store in this book, just head over to Carla's review.  She made a cool dozen recipes (and they definitely look good).

All in all, I highly recommend this book. I can't speak to the recipes just yet, but the book is thoroughly entertaining and heart-warming.  It gives you plenty to think about and gentle nudges to guide you on the road to satiating your own hungry ghost.  I highly recommend it.

** Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by the publisher at no cost.  The opinions and review given here are my own.  My hungry ghost would not like it if I sold my ethics for a free book. **

1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard of this book so thanks so much for reviewing it! I will try and get a copy as it sounds really good. I too am not religious but this sounds that little bit extra more special than just a cook book! Happy Vegan mofo!
    Love Kayleigh X