Monday, April 6, 2015

Book Review: Feast on a Diabetic Diet

Title: Feast on a Diabetic Diet
Author: Euell and Joe Gibbons
Date: 1973
Publisher: Fawcett / Ballantine
ISBN: 0-449-21565-2
Length: 307 pages of text by Euell Gibbons, including an “expanded” nutrient chart, plus a 7-page foreword by Joe Gibbons, plus an index
Quote: “The proper care of diabetes is also an excellent program to promote general health...the diabetic often outlives his non-diabetic contemporaries.”
Both Gibbons brothers were gourmets, but their paths diverged in Japan in 1942, when Joe Gibbons became diabetic. Euell Gibbons went home to invent European-style recipes for North American native plants; Joe Gibbons went home to convince himself and his doctors that a maintenance diet for diabetics can be interesting.
Although Joe didn’t become diabetic until age 30, he had the so-called “juvenile” type of diabetes which is caused by permanent damage to the pancreas and is therefore harder to control than the usual “adult onset” type. (Strict adherence to a good diet and exercise program will often reverse “adult onset” diabetes.) After hearing this news, Euell avoided Joe for years. When he did visit Joe he was “prepared to conceal my dismay at the way he must by now look, and all that he must have to endure.” He found that diet-consciousness had served Joe well: “My love of good food was beginning to show...he was still slender...still able to put out a hard day’s work. Joe is two years older than I am, but nearly everyone to whom he introduced me thought I was the older brother.” Prepared to make a great display of sacrificial love, Euell consented to eat exactly what Joe ate. And he liked it! After Joe outworked Euell at the wood shop, “for the entire week...[w]e fairly reveled in fine food... Best of all, by the end of the week my trousers began to feel loose.”
During the past 35 years, collections of recipes that are safe for diabetics but will appeal to other people have become commonplace. This one is special because of the Gibbons’ willingness to feast on things not everyone recognizes as food. I know of no other diabetic cookbook that features witloof, or tells you to “put a little rockweed or fucus in the pot when [steaming lobster]...otherwise, don’t you dare change or mask that delicious flavor with spices.” The expanded nutrient charts include information for raw bamboo shoots,shelled beechnuts, boysenberries, breadfruit, butternuts, crowder peas, field cress, dasheen, dewberries, dock, haws, loquats, litchis, goat’s milk, and “Opossum, roasted, lean meat only.”
The use of monosodium glutamate and sugar substitutes in some of these recipes turns me off, but most of the recipes are reasonably natural and appealing. When cooks are able to get good-quality natural foods and prepare them in ways that don’t destroy their quality, they can hardly go wrong. These treats are recommended even and especially to people who are not diabetic.

Neither Gibbons brother needs a dollar any more, so Feast on a Diabetic Diet is not a Fair Trade Book. However, it's a small book, so if you buy it in combination with a Fair Trade Book you can save at least one $5 shipping charge--possibly more. Our base price is $5 for the book + $5 for shipping.