Monday, December 06, 2010

Replying to You and the Reviewer

I wasn’t planning to post again today. After hearing from so many of you, and the reviewer himself, however, I couldn’t get on with my day without writing back.

I didn’t write this post to fish for compliments or get reassurance, yet I know that you are caring readers and that I would likely receive uplifting comments. So, for that, first I thank you.

I wrote this post to express what I was feeling when I read that review. I generally don't get hung up on reviews. I have taught myself to read them, and move on. I have always felt that many people will like my work, others won't, and then others will greatly dislike it – that’s fair as a cookbook author. I am bothered, however, when the reviews are not accurate about the content of my book, and also when the review paints a picture of me or my life that I view as unfair.

If a reviewer writes “this book isn’t for me, I don’t like her style of cooking, don’t like her blend of flavors, and really didn’t like the taste of “x” and “y” recipe, or there aren't enough photos in the book and she uses a lot of chickpeas”… all fair game in my opinion (I do like my chickpeas)!  But, I have had a handful of reviews where I feel the review is the chance for someone to sit behind the veil of a computer and “release” about whatever, or even make slanderous statements.  I feel that is unacceptable, even though I know it occurs routinely for authors.

To address the reviewer that commented on my last post... I appreciate that you altered your review. I’m sorry if any of the comments from my last post vilified you, but perhaps you now appreciate what it is like to be on the other side of the online review. I still do not agree with you that the majority of my recipes have at least one ‘unusual’ ingredient, but accept and understand that they might be unusual for you - fair enough.  I suggest (and I am saying this in a friendly, not antagonistic, tone) that as a vegan, you might want to expand your repertoire of ingredients and cooking methods in the future, just so you have more to enjoy in what is available from vegan foods.

For everyone else, I thank you for sharing your loving and encouraging words, as you have done before and I’m sure you’ll probably do sometime again!  I only hope I reciprocate your goodness in some way through my blog and work.

Will move on to something a little more cheery and interesting for you in my next post!


LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Love you, Dreena!!!!!!! I've got your back.

Ryan said...

I agree on the "expanding your ingredients" suggestion -- when I get a new cookbook and see ingredients that aren't familiar, I don't think, "What a hassle!" I think, "Sweet, something new. Now where can I get it?"

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

Great response, Dreena! You're very respectful & gracious, and it's your right to stick up for yourself against an inaccurate review. As you said, a negative review is one thing - but an unfair, baseless review is another.

Personally, "ED&BV" was one of the first vegan cookbooks that I bought, and I didn't find any of the recipes intimidating or particularly expensive. The unfortunate truth is that typically, eating healthy, organic food is more expensive than eating crap. But that's not the fault of your book, and one way to save money is to cook at home - which, of course, your books help us do!

Keep on keepin' on, Dreena. :) I love your work!

Pretty Zesty said...

I am going to catch up with all of what has happened but I agree with you that a comment that says "there are too many weird ingredients" when it is a vegan book is an overused comment. If you aren't a vegan who would buy unknown ingredients (or have access to them) in the first place then the particular book is not really for you and you need something more mainstream. Whether it is good book or not. I have a lot of books that use ingredients that I'd have to search long and hard for but that's always fun! I'm off to read more!

ps I've been and on-again off-again vegetarian. Back to being on and trying vegan. I do have a soy intolerance though! If you have any thoughts on that I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Eleanor said...

On unusual.

I avoid vegan cook books with this tag, and I buy a few, because I cannot obtain the ingredients here in Ottawa.

Not that I don't want to... but it just isn't going to happen. Especially on a student budget: I can't order them from afar.

That said...chickpeas are nice and substitution suggestions are very useful.

Robi Smith said...

Dreena, thanks for writing these posts and especially for highlighting the values question around the cost of good food. I make the same decisions for my family. We scrape by financially, but we always eat beautiful, healthy food. One of our favorite meals at this time of year is baked squash, roasted potatoes, grilled green beans and veggies, with tahini lemon sauce. Complicated? Not at all. Taste better than most restaurant food, absolutely. Some people may balk at paying close more than $5 for an organic squash at the farmers market, or close to $30 for a litre of maple syrup, but the goodness in those basic ingredients make me and my family feel well cared for and wealthy in ways that we probably wouldn't if we chose the cheapest or more processed food options, even if it would save some money in the short term. (Long term I also think of good food as the best health insurance policy :)

BugnLVoe said...

I didn't comment on the other post, but I just wanted to say, I don't find your ingredients unusual at all! Especially agave syrup, that's a staple in my house. Maybe the reviewer is young or new or a junk food vegan.


London Mabel said...

Nice follow-up. And him too--I think his follow-up comment on your last post, and his willingness to tweak his review a little, made this one of the most relaxing Internets Sword Crossings I've ever read. Nice break from the usual drama. :-) Thanks!

Carin said...

Regarding your ingredients that the reviewer thought were uncommon. That's the BEST part of the vegan dietary lifestyle, exploring new foods, new cultural ideas, expanding your world of food. To be vegan means not living with dietary blinders on.

Janae @ Bring-Joy said...

Dreena, I know how it feels to be critiqued. Especially unfairly.

I hope that you will continue to use all of your "unusual" ingredients--they have expanded my repetoire and knowledge of foods, and I do love the combinations and flavors you've created. Just marvelous.

I say, different strokes for different folks. Perhaps this fella might be better suited with a baked potato and a side of steamed brocolli. Seriously, you can't please everyone's taste buds.

You're lovely and talented and I appreciate what you've contributed (and will contribute) to the vegan world. We need your pizazz and style in to inspire us in the kitchen!

Kelli said...

The reason I bought your books is because the recipes look easy and consist of ingredients that I usually have in my pantry.
I recently unsubscibed from a yahoo group because some members would be mean sitting behind their computers and hitting "send" about things that they would never say to someone's face.
I have also found many Amazon reviews to be unhelpful. I don't even consider ones from people that have never cooked from the book.
Go make your kids and hubby something yummy, look at their appreciative faces, and give them a big kiss.
And know that you have many "friends" out here.

Kelli said...

Oh yeah, you have mentioned that you are writing a new cookbook, and then this happened. What makes you or anyone else special at what they do is when they are themselves. So don't let this change what you do best.

Heidi said...

Bring on the "unusual" ingredients for those of us who love to cook and add to our repertoire! I always end up realizing that those ingredients were just unfamiliar to me and yet easily found in my little Canadian city if I really look.

As a newbie vegan who has only just begun to collect vegan cookbooks, hearing that yours uses a lot of chickpeas just moves it higher up on my "buy a.s.a.p." list! :)

Keep up the fabulous work!

North of 17 said...


I live in a small Northern Ontario Town, work full time and I am raising 3 young children under the age of 5. I am vegan. We have a small vegetable garden that we keep in our small backyard in the summer months.

I do not have any difficulty finding your ingredients at our local No Frills grocery store or local health food store. I take the time to eat and "slow cook" and prepare for my family because it is important to impose healthy food habits, chop fresh vegetables and not eat packaged foods with my family and friends.

Keep up the great inspiring work and it is important that our diets are diverse and healthy and your recipes do just that.

Keep up the great work.


Anonymous said...

To be completely objective, the reviewer was on to something about some of the ingredients being hard to find. In the town I live in, it would be like hell to try to find some of the ingredients you listed that aren't in a normal grocery store. I don't have a Whole Foods nearby- all my grocery stores are normal, everyday ones and perhaps he was in the same predicament I would find myself in.