My kid is in pre-school. Clearly I have hit a rut with lunch box creativity when the single-least adventurous eating demographic is griping. Must be time for some inspiration. Or just more time. Packing lunches is tough, to get specifically “lunch” items, it means adding a third more cooking to your life. That said, with what passes for the average school lunch, it’s time well spent.
Jennifer McCann’s second book, Vegan Lunch Box Around the World, may offer some creative inspiration not just for vegans, but for all of us brown bagging, or reusable, BPA-free bento-ing, these days. Kids, too. The recipes are described as menus for a different country, state or region covering places as diverse as from Kansas to Morocco. Many of the recipes sound intriguing, including Stuffed Dates, Moroccan Tagine, Palak Paneer, and a Basil Salad with Lime and Curry Dressing. These are well worth exploring, especially given the large following of McCann’s award-winning blog “Vegan Lunch Box.”
A few recipes are a bit of a stretch for vegan versions, such as the Haggis on the Scotland menu. Since Haggis is primarily made of offal, there just are not any types of flavors or spice I can think of that could approximate the pungent flavors of organ meats. Beyond these exceptions, the menus all sounded good together as a complete “set” ideal for the bento lunch box style that McCann uses.
If the book were to be improved, it would be in its organization. Menus are presented in regions, but the actual recipes are displayed later in the book by course; salad, side, etc. Readers will have to page back and forth several times to prepare a given menu. With distinct flavors that are designed to form that complete menu “set,” it would have been better for the reader to keep the recipes and menu descriptions together.
Color plates showing some of the menus are nestled in the center of the book, apart from the menu descriptions. This makes things a bit hard on the reader to duplicate some of the vegetable cuts like carrot bunnies without the visual reference.
Vegan Lunch Box Around the World
by Jennifer McCann
Book provided for review by:
Da Capo Press