Friday, January 13, 2012

5 reasons this book is hilarious

List by Tosca

"When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste."
- Laiko Bahrs

Unless we're talking about this book. Do not, under any circumstances, eat the dishes in this book. Although if you do, please write in and tell me about it? That's worth a Top 5 list of its own. If you've ever sat for hours on end and pored over your mother's (or grandmother's) dated cookbooks and been equal parts amazed and terrified at the large number of ugly dishes that people could ever have made pre-1980s, THEN THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU! And I know this, because I was (am?) one of those people. My mother had an odd assortment of cookbooks that she'd collected over the years. They came from garage sales, school fairs, second hand book shops and various other places. I don't remember that she made a lot of the dishes that were in them (Some? Yes. As many as we had books for? No), but I do know that she would read them often and make her own variation of them. (Not the ones involving aspic, thank gosh). I would spend hours going through the very ugly covers and marvelling at how many truly horrible types of food could be made in jello. WHY WHY WHY? My eyes can never unsee some of those dishes. Never. And I wouldn't trade it for a minute. Which is why this book, The gallery of regrettable food by James Lileks, is full of win. Hilarious comments from the author combined with the most frightfully awesome images. What's not to like? You think I'm kidding, don't you? I intend to prove to you that I'm one hundred percent serious by sharing 5 dishes *and* Lilek's description of them. The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. Seriously, though, don't eat these...but DO take this book out!

Honourable mention:
  • Balls! Page 31 has balls. Balls on picks, even. And not just any balls, but: Anchovy balls (mashed anchovy paste with hard-cooked eggs, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper and minced parsley); Celery balls (minced celery, cream cheese, salt, pepper, cayene pepper); Green balls (Swiss cheese, minced ham, mustard, egg yolk, salt, pepper, minced chives); Burning bush - I swear I am not making this up (cream cheese, minced onion, minced dried beef); Liver sausage rolls (liver sausage, minced celery, minced green pepper, garlic, dill pickles)
  • Aspic entrees! Seriously, tongue mousse and jellied calf's liver. I only wish there had been an image to go with these
  • Erect wieners in a sea of beans! I swear, hand on (what should be) my heart I am not making this up
  • Veal ring salad that, according to Lilek, looks like 'human finger bones jammed into a cat brain, wrapped in a nice bow, sealed in aspic.'

  • Lowell Thomas's London Loaf - page 69
    "Beware of meals whose names consist of a city and a genre. Salmon loaf doesn't tell you much, but you have reasonable expectations of salmon. Ditto meat loaf; one assumes it contains meat. So London loaf contains...what?"

    For truly distinctive desserts cook with Ketchup... - page 108
    "Well, there's no disputing that statement, is there?
    Here's the example they give: Ketchup-Pistachio Cake.
    And for truly distinctive dinners, cook with ketchup, tinfoil, and small ground-up Lego fragments! Good? Nay - but distinctive."

    Roasted pigeons - page 133
    "Believe it or not, this is an enlarged picture of that delightful dish: Roasted Pigeons.
    The pigeons appear to have curled together to comfort one another in death."

    Barnacled scrod - page 139
    "Say ahoy to Barnacled Scrod! What this is doing in a salad book, I've no idea. It has French fries, some sort of fillet soaking in a light black sauce, and three strange nodules fastened on the fillet like nautical parasites.
    It seems to be the antithesis of salad, unless you count that dispirited heap of humiliated greenery in the corner, and I don't."

    Roadkill? - page 188
    Roadkill? No, no. This is Ironed Chicken with Tomato Fragments.
    For a curiously Masonic touch, there's a disembodied eye floating in the middle of the dish, just like that one on the back of a dollar bill. For that matter, this meal appears to be giving itself the secret Masonic handshake."

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