Lonely Planet: The World’s Best Superfoods

Lonely Planet Food
The World’s Best Superfoods
RRP: NZD $26.99

I’m not usually a sucker for the whole ‘superfood’ thing. A little bit of what you love does you a lot of good, I reckon; and I’m definitely a subscriber to eating the rainbow.

I am, however, completely fascinated by the foods of other cultures. Memories of countries I’ve visited can be sparked by tastes and smells better than anything else: the low lights and warm aromas from the Spanish tapas bars, the unmistakeable sights and sounds of the spice markets in Turkey – and on one very memorable occasion, my food moving slowly on the plate after I’d ordered a platter of ‘fruits de mer’ in a restaurant in Paris!

With a busy family to cater for, any exotic travel plans are on hold for the moment – but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream! The latest book from the Lonely Planet series, The World’s Best Superfoods, is all about health-boosting recipes from around the world – but for me, it was about taking a culinary trip around the world.

The book is divided into food groups – Seeds & Nuts; Legumes; Grains & Cereals; Fruits; Vegetables; Fish & Meat and Other Superfoods. Each group hops around several countries, highlighting recipes that are particularly good for something, be it energy, digestion, heart health, immunity or even longevity.

There’s a lot of information on the different food groups written by British-born health food writer Natasha Corrett, but the difference in this book is how they relate to dishes from other countries. Each recipe has a little nugget of information on where the foods come from, which are fascinating; for example the Israeli dish Charoset, an ancient sweetmeat with a history rooted deeply in the Jewish Passover legend.

Unsurprisingly, some of the ingredients used aren’t readily available in New Zealand, but honestly – that’s part of the fun. The Reindeer Stew with Lingonberries from Finland, for example, calls for 500g of frozen roasted reindeer – something I just don’t have in the freezer, unfortunately! I’m pretty sure it will work with venison though: I’ll give it a try and see!

Some recipes will be instantly recognisable: the Palak Paneer from India looks incredible, and very doable (and unlike many health-based recipes, there’s no guilt-inducing swap-outs for ingredients like double cream; the recipe just doesn’t use very much of it). The tapenade recipe from France is easy and delicious, as are the Irish Donegal Oatcakes. The Egyptian Kushari, with its 20+ ingredients, looks a little more intimidating, but it’s worth a try – and it looks amazing.

I may not be hopping on a plane any time soon, but this little book of international goodness is as good a way as any to transport me to a land where the flavours shine as brightly as the sun – and while I’m dreaming, I know I’m eating food that’s good for me. Well, it’s the next best thing…