Naturally Fast Food Book 2
Henry Dimbleby & John Vincent
Conran Octopus Publishing
Everyone who's sought out a healthy, low priced bite whilst on the hoof in London will be familiar with healthy fast food chain Leon. A bright livery, eccentric decor and exuberant staff characterise each of the burgeoning outlets, and the team have successfully distilled the restaurants' vibe into their second book.
This book achieves the almost impossible- it's an artistic explosion design-wise, yet stuffed with insanely practical information. Satisfyingly weighty, it's a riot of colour from the off, with endpapers featuring a photographic collage of the Leon team and family.
Tasty, accessible and innovative are a triumvirate you don't encounter too often. But Leon's food genuinely ticks all three boxes, with the bonus of a consistently health-conscious approach. Naturally Fast Food is split into two sections- 'Fast Food' and 'Slow Fast Food'- dishes to prepare at leisure, then heat in a hurry after a long day.
Despite its coffee-table aesthetics, this book's not a showpiece. As Henry comments in the introduction, it should end up careworn, splattered and sticky. And with recipes for everything from breakfast banana splits to potted meat, this shouldn't be a tall order. It's mouthwatering stuff, from summery green sunshine salads to winter vegetable herb pot roasts.
Recipes are delivered in signature style- chatty, with tweaks and anecdotes littered throughout. A friendly tone pervades, with family and loved ones contributing their own dishes and comments, perhaps most notably from Henry's mother Josceline Dimbleyby (or 'Jossy' as she's affectionately referred to throughout).
The non-standard format serves to keep the content fresh and inspiring, but manages to remain both navigable and a pleasure to use. The 'bonus features' at the back are a joy- themed party menus, musings on food issues, customer 'wishes' placed in a chest of drawers at the Ludgate Circus branch- even a sheet of stickers.
It's clear that Naturally Fast Food is a book borne of a love of food which does both the consumer and the wider world a little good. It's wholly diverting and a rollicking source of entertainment, but the advice and content is rooted in the practicalities of everyday life and the struggle to eat a sensible diet. As the book itself proves, a balanced approach is always best.