Please Feed Me: Punk Vegan Cookbook: by Niall McGuirk, 144 pgs.

Jun 05, 2007

       Getting ready to raise a vegetarian child, much to the dismay of my family (“But the baby won’t grow if you don’t feed her meat…”), I’m always scoping out cookbooks, eager to learn new veggie recipes and test them out. I half-expected this cookbook to simply give instructions on meals with funny punk names like Squatter Squash Stew or Anarchy Beans and Rice. While I did come across a few interesting ones (such as Spinach and Ginger Bowel Loosener, Tasty Gourmet Punk Rock Baked Beans, and Tofu Pie Thingy), this book is actually more like two books in one. It’s a retrospective on Dublin’s Hope Collective, a group of friends (including author Niell McGuirk and his wife) who helped bring punk bands to their area, as well as a cookbook featuring recipes from the various bands who played these shows.

The book meticulously details the conception, trials and tribulations, successes, and ultimate demise of the Hope Collective, who set up shows from 1984 to 1999. The group started after McGuirk had successfully set up a local punk show and decided he wanted to get his favorite punk bands to play in his hometown, too. Along with some friends and a dollop of the DIY spirit, the Hope Collective helped brought bands like Fugazi, Bikini Kill, Chumbawamba, NOFX, Bis, Jawbreaker, Nomeansno, Refused, MTX, Los Crudos, Babes in Toyland and tons more to Ireland.

The recipes are placed in order by date of the contributing band’s gig and each recipe is accompanied by an account of what happened at the show, and oftentimes, a flyer, picture and/or quotes by the band. Of course, not every single band responded to McGuirk’s recipe request, but every Hope show during those fifteen years is listed at the end of the book, including all 283 bands that played and at what venue. Talk about thorough! If anyone ever wanted a history of Dublin’s punk scene in the ‘90s, this is your bible.

As for the recipes themselves, they range from the silly (“Red Stuff: beans, red stuff, add rice pasta or hair, cook and mix till smelly, then add bread and butter and pint of white blood, sit down and watch porn”) and super easy to a bit more complicated with many more ingredients, but they all seem very do-able. I’m not so sure about vegan cheese (all the lacto-ovo vegetarians like myself can always substitute real cheese), but I’ve got to check out this TVP (some kind of soy protein) and nutritional yeast flakes. There are a lot of recipes for curries, pasta/noodle dishes, guacamole, stews, soups, beans, casseroles, and even several desserts. Most of the stuff is similar to what you’d find in any ol’ veggie cookbook (including some of the more unappetizing recipes like Lentil and Nut Casserole that seem to scream out “hippie!”), but it is interesting to read recipes and anecdotes from some of your favorite punk bands and a ton of obscure ones as well. Personally, I’d like to try out the Pear and Cardamom Cake and Vegan Satay.

            There’s also an appendix at the end comparing weights, measures, and terms. Why terms? Because what we call zucchini and cilantro, our friends over the pond call courgettes and coriander leaves. And if you have a few recipes of your own you’d like to add, there are some blank pages in the back of the book for just that purpose.

            So if you’re in the mood for cooking up some yummy vegan grub while reading the tale of a scene that thrived through cooperation, activism, and the love of punk rock, grab this book for dinner. –Heela (Soft Skull Press, 71 Bond St., Brooklyn, NY 11217)

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