A while back, I requested The Sexy Vegan Cookbook by Brian L. Patton from the library and was able to pick it up this afternoon. The first thing I noticed was that there are no color photographs. The book does have some black and white photographs, but they are used more as graphical elements than for highlighting recipes.
There’s certainly no lack of visual coherence, however. Overall, the book looks aesthetically pleasing in a self-consciously edgy sort of way. In looking through the book, the second thing I noticed (after the lack of helpful photographs), was that some recipes have QR codes. Throughout the book, there are 15, which can be used by tech-savvy and smartphone-equipped readers to quickly access videos that will help them with the recipes. Slightly less tech-savvy readers can use the URLs which appear in an appendix. Non tech-savvy readers are stuck with a book with very few black and white pictures. The QR codes are a neat gimmick that help the book stand out in my mind. In fact, I learned a great way to roast and peel beets by watching one of them.
This book also offers a lot of personal commentary from the author. It seems like it would be an entertaining read for some. What stumps me about The Sexy Vegan Cookbook is trying to figure out its target demographic. It might be the type of book a hip vegan twenty-something something woman would buy for her non-vegan live-apart boyfriend as a passive aggressive means of convincing him to be vegan. And if he opened it, he might be entertained. And if he was entertained, he might try a recipe. And if he tried a recipe, he might be more open to vegan food. And that’s a good thing. But, that can’t be the book’s sole appeal, which makes me wonder, do vegan men really want that much ball/wang/ass humor with their recipes? Give me unadulterated recipes any day—the extraneous humor (“Here they are! For the whole planet to behold…My Balls!”) detracts from a cookbook in my view. But that seems to be The Sexy Vegan’s shtick. I think the bottom line is I am not part of this book’s target audience.
I think if this book were in my permanent collection, I’d use it occasionally because there’s some good basic recipes in there. As long as we’re theoretically speaking, however, I might begin to wonder if a less edgy and more complete vegan recipe reference book would be my first choice. Something like 500 Vegan Recipes. To The Sexy Vegan Cookbook’s credit, though, I don’t think 500 Vegan Recipes contains any mixed drink recipes. The chapter on cocktails is definitely a cool thing about The Sexy Vegan Cookbook.
There are some good recipes in this book. One such recipe is “The Luigi”, a 14-inch pizza with 20 cloves of garlic (on page 162). Now you’re cooking! That’s some serious garlic! I also like that each element of this pizza is homemade and the book offers recipes for everything from the dough, cashew ricotta, not-zzarella sauce, parmesan topping, and basil chiffonade.
When it comes to vegan cooking, “chiffonade” sounds a whole lot sexier to me than “balls”, “wang”, or “ass”. While much of the book’s humor is lost on me, it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into producing this cookbook. After all, it’s the first cookbook I’ve seen with QR codes that direct readers to online content. In the end, perhaps I take a page from Brian L. Patton’s book when I say, “different strokes for different folks.”