Sunday, October 11, 2015

Review: Ikaria by by Diane Kochilas

Title: Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die
Author: Diane Kochilas
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 14th 2014
Source: Rodale Books

Book Description:

The remote and lush island of Ikaria in the northeastern Aegean is home to one of the longest-living populations on the planet, making it a "blue zone." Much of this has been attributed to Ikaria's stress-free lifestyle and Mediterranean diet-daily naps, frequent sex, a little fish and meat, free-flowing wine, mindless exercise like walking and gardening, hyper-local food, strong friendships, and a deep-rooted disregard for the clock.

No one knows the Ikarian lifestyle better than Chef Diane Kochilas, who has spent much of her life on the island. Part cookbook, part travelogue, Kochilas's Ikaria is an introduction to the food-as-life philosophy and a culinary journey through luscious recipes, gorgeous photography, and captivating stories from locals. Capturing the true spirit of the island, Kochilas explains the importance of shared food, the health benefits of raw and cooked salads, the bean dishes that are passed down through generations, the greens and herbal teas that are used in the kitchen and in the teapot as "medicine," and the nutritional wisdom inherent in the ingredients and recipes that have kept Ikarians healthy for so long.

Ikaria is more than a cookbook. It's a portrait of the people who have achieved what so many of us yearn for: a fuller, more meaningful and joyful life, lived simply and nourished on real, delicious, seasonal foods that you can access anywhere.



I love to cook, that's no secret. Since my dad's a chef, I grew up learning and appreciating all sorts of different types of cuisine. That being said, I will always have a soft spot for Greek cooking. It is my absolute favorite to eat, and I read as many cookbooks as I can on the subject. This book makes a pretty good addition to my collection.

What makes this book cool is the voice that it's written with. There's a lot of personal connections and stories that make the book more personal, which makes the recipes feel like they were handed to you by someone dear to you. There's also a lot of cool history and facts about what life in Ikaria is like, as well as tips and hints that are scattered throughout, and a bibliography at the end for more reading. You've got to love a book that encourages more reading.

The recipes are divided into sections: Small bites, salads, soups, savory pies and breads, vegetables as a main course, beans and legumes, pasta and rice, sea life, meat, and sweets. I like this style of organization, since it's easy to find the recipe that you're in the mood for.

The skill level for this book is really varied. Some of the recipes are really complex, with lots of ingredients and techniques and time management skills. Other dishes are much more simple, like roasted onions. I think that's good, because that makes it approachable to any cook, no matter of what their skill level in the kitchen is.

I am bummed that there's not many pictures, since I generally take that into large consideration when I'm buying a cookbook.

The steps are short and to the point, and they include variations to the recipes when applicable. There are some pretty uncommon ingredients in here, which I can anticipate being a problem depending on where you live. I did like, though, that each dish name was given both in English and in Greek, giving it more authenticity. Some of the recipes are traditional Greek foods I know and love, such as lemon rice soup and dolmades, others are dishes I've never even heard of before.

Whether I've heard of them or not though, they all sound so rustic and wholesome. The soup and seafood chapters all sound delicious, and there's nice variation on rabbit and goat dishes. These are both proteins I enjoy, but don't get to eat very often. That said, this book is very vegetarian friendly. There's a whole chapter just on vegetable main courses, and other dishes give variations to make them more adaptable.

Some of the recipes that I'm most excited to try include Wine-Cooked Rooster and Rooster Broth Soup with Rice, Ikarian Milk Soup, and Grape Molasses-Chocolate Cake.

I recommend this book to those looking to add more Greek spice to their home kitchen. I just wish there were more pictures.

I received my copy in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. his article is very interesting.. I like your article.. good luck friend...