One of my favorite things to do is browse used bookstores. I could do this for hours, and have – literally. Or, if I don’t feel so inclined to leave the house, I do it online. When browsing the plethora of books available on the world-wide web, I stumbled upon an intriguing and thought-provoking book called Feng Shui Food. This cookbook is a collaborative effort between feng shui consultant Simon Brown, and restaurant chef Steven Saunders. Simon Brown has been a feng shui consultant since 1993, and operates Chi Energy, a holistic health institute in London. He was also one of the first practitioners to bring feng shui classes to the United Kingdom. Steve Saunders is a highly acclaimed chef. Having worked on many televised cooking shows (including his own), he is the co-director of the Aspire Group, a restaurant company that has dining establishments all over the United Kingdom, as well as a few exotic locales. Both gentlemen have authored numerous books, but this is their only joint venture. So I purchased Feng Shui Food, and awaited its hasty arrival.
The book gives an intriguing, fresh perspective to cooking along feng shui guidelines. Divided into five separate sections, the first chapter deals with feng shui basics, yin and yang theory, the five elements, as well as what things attract healthy chi to a kitchen. The second chapter is nearly all recipes for appetizers and soups, entrees, side dishes, and desserts. These are organized by yin and yang, with more yin items on the left side of the page, and yang items situated on the right. Also, the two British authors give corresponding commentary about each dish, both from culinary and feng shui perspectives.
The third chapter, titled Menus for Success, looks at ways to create a certain kind of atmosphere, depending on what one is attempting to achieve. From a romantic dinner for two, to a children’s lunch, to a meal for reconciliation. In addition to even more recipes, this section also has a wide variety of tips and suggestions. The fourth chapter goes into this further, for specific special events, such at weddings or Christmas dinner. The fifth chapter is all about dining outside of the home. They include ideas about selecting the right kind of environment for dining depending on the occasion. An appendix is also located at the back, with even further recipes for oils, sauces, breads, desserts, and a few other items (some of which are required for recipes located elsewhere in the book). Nearly all of the recipes in Feng Shui Food are vegetarian or pescatarean in nature. Energy, or chi, is in our food as well, and when one consumes animal flesh or animal products (dairy or eggs), we take in the energy of that creature. A certain amount of “dead energy” comes with eating meat, hence why most of the recipes in this book are vegetable or fish based. Although I support the vegetarian lifestyle completely, I am definitely a carnivore. But, when I crave a hamburger or New York steak, I tend to look for more organic and humane options. The book suggests – and I agree – that organic is the best way to go for all food items, when possible.
Many of the informative tidbits s in Feng Shui Food are highly valuable, especially when it comes to attaining a balanced meal from a feng shui perspective. And all of the recipes are simply mouthwatering. But then came the difficult part – which recipe do I start with? I decided to go with Petit Pois a la Francaise, located on page 54 of the book. I selected this side dish because I liked all of the ingredients, and it seemed rather easy to make. Although I did play with some of the components.
2 pounds of fresh or frozen peas are the main act in this dish. I opted for the frozen sweet peas from a fine French store I frequent known as Target (Their Market Pantry selection of generic food items are very high quality – especially their instant oatmeal). Rather than use the required shallots, I used finely diced scallions. I also didn’t have any vegetable broth. Since I had no present desire to my own, so I took a shortcut by way of beef bouillon. I also neglected to purchase fresh mint, so I opted for rosemary as a substitute.
One thing I loved about these peas is they use honey to add a distinct sweet flavor. Although it requires only one tablespoon, I added a little over two. I was also concerned about the heavy cream required. I was expecting it to be cream laden, but the ratio of cream to peas is pretty sparse, so calorie-wise, it isn’t too bad. Tahini can also be substituted for the cream.
Other than my few alterations, I followed the recipe exactly. The final product is pictured above. The recipe states that it’s for four people (nearly all of the recipes in the book are for a party of four). Here, I disagree. This amount would easily serve anywhere between six to eight individuals. While I enjoyed the rosemary, I feel the mint would have complimented the honey on the vegetables much better. Element wise, I love how wood-based this meal is, with the greenery and fresh herbs. Simon Brown also indicates this dish is great for wanting to be more creative or more inspired, and I agree completely. I’ve been adding these peas to Chinese fried rice, macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs, or leaving as is as the perfect side dish.
Where is the best place to get this wondrous book? Published in the UK in 1999, and United States in 2000, one’s best bet would be online. I’ve compiled a list of the most affordable places to order Feng Shui Food below:
- Barnes and Noble Marketplace – The resale portion of Barnes and Noble has many copies available, ranging from $5.00 to $15.00 each, including tax and shipping. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/feng-shui-food-steven-saunders/1004089273?ean=9781585741335
- Valore Books – An online textbook seller, they have some editions available from $5.00 – $9.00, including tax and shipping. http://www.valorebooks.com/textbooks/feng-shui-food/9781585741335?utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Froogle&utm_source=Froogle&date=07/30/12&buy=3
- Alibris – An excellent online source for books, they have over twenty copies, all under $5.00. Not sure on tax and shipping. http://www.alibris.com/booksearch?qwork=2285564&qsort=p&matches=49&cm_sp=works*listing*buyused
- Amazon – I purchased mine here. They have about thirty copies, all under $6.00. Shipping and tax varies depending on the seller. http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1585741337/sr=/qid=/ref=olp_tab_all?ie=UTF8&colid=&coliid=&me=&qid=&seller=&sr=
This book is sensational, and I highly recommend it to any novice or experienced chef. As for my further culinary adventures with Feng Shui Food, I plan on making their Lemon Oil and Basil Oil (or perhaps combining the two), Honey and Raspberry Fool, Fried Lentil Cakes with Cumin, and Lasagna of Spinach Pasta and Wild Mushrooms. I better get started cooking…