Food with Friends: the art of simple gatherings is a recipe book by Leela Cyd, who is a self-proclaimed “food, lifestyle and travel photographer and storyteller.” As can be imagined, the photos are beautiful. In the introduction, Leela states that she emphasizes “food that looks and tastes good.” It shows in the photos. I would argue she is bigger on style than substance. (How many flower petals do you really need to eat?)
The book has a touch of whimsy throughout from the ingredients to the garnishes to the table settings. The love she has for her life shows through in the writing. The collection of recipes are nicely eclectic (South Indian Kesari Bhath, Socca Cakes, Matcha Egg Cream, Challah Bread) as a result of her travels and include a lot of dishes and ingredients that I’ve never experienced. The dishes are unique, beautifully presented, and will probably delight any dinner guests.
The general flaws of the book are few; it leans heavily to sweets (not such a bad thing) and the chapters are arbitrary, why put Hazelnut Tea Cake with Plums under “potlucks & picnics” instead of “teatime”or “desserts”?
This book is as much about lifestyles as it is about food. I think I would have liked the book much better if I didn’t read any of the non-recipe texts. The very distinctive feeling I get from this book is that it is not actually food for friends so much as for people who are active on social media in whom you delight in evoking jealousy by presenting some over-garnished side dish. You say loudly how simple it was to throw together while everyone else tries to find the best light for their Instagram photos.
Bottom line: If you’re a good friend, I make you bacon and various potato dishes and burritos over-stuffed with good things. If you’re a frenemy, I’ll give you the Warm Olives and Spa Water.
Thanks to Blogging for Books for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review