Monday, July 23, 2012

Nonfiction Monday-- Cooking

Hartland, Jessie. Bon Apetit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child.
22 May 2012, Random House Children's Books.

This picture book contains a lot of information about this famous chef, author, and television personality. Following her from her childhood, to her time in the OSS during World War II, to her marriage to and travels with Paul Child, this also goes into detail about how hard it was for her and her cowriters to complete and publish The Art of French Cooking. The illustrations are attractive, and I love that the color scheme is similar to that of Child's kitchen, which has been moved to the Smithsonian. My only problem with the book was that the hand lettered font often blended into the illustrations and was hard to read. 

Murdoch Books. I want to be a Chef: Baking
1 May 2012

Why are there so many Australian and British imports of children's cook books? This is another one that is colorful and complete, but includes ingredients like "caster sugar" (powered sugar?), red capsicum (pepper), and way more puff pastry than I think the average child in the US eats. Even if we read the notes carefully and understand the ingredients, there's still the hurdle of the products; anzac biscuits (which I had to look up even though I have read, several times, A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down), monte creams, and a whole lot of things with passion fruit. Will pass on this one.

Duane, Daniel. How to Cook Like A Man: A Memoir of Cookbook Obsession.
8 May 2012, Bloomsbury USA

This was a perfectly fine book for adults; Duane is a facile writer who can describe food with the best of them (the best being, of course, M.F.K. Fisher!). I love reading food writing, but I hate cooking, and I had an absolutely visceral loathing of this book. Mr. Duane gives the statistic that in a survey of 185 human cultures, women are primarily responsible for cooking in 97.8% of them. This could be because I, unlike Mr. Duane, never considered cooking for my family as some kind of challenge or way of escaping more onerous duties under the guise of doing a job that needed to be done. The selfishness of this endeavor is smugly explained down to the smallest detail (making wife and new baby travel inordinate distances and pay exorbitant costs for beets, a well as other weird ingredients that no one really eats willingly) all while liberally dropping the f-bomb. I'm glad that Mr. Duane learned to cook, I'm glad that he has written seven books, and he should be glad that his long-suffering wife hasn't thrown him out! 

Ugh. Must go read Peg Bracken's inspiring and humorous I Hate to Cook Book (1960) now! In fact, I think I may need a hardcover fiftieth anniversary edition of it! In the meantime, reading Jessica Harper's The Crabby Cook Cookbook (2010) was almost as good, although there weren't as many useful recipes in it. What is marscapone cheese? Does my local Krogers even carry it?

It's Nonfiction Monday! The host this week is Perogies and Gyoza, so head over there to join the party.


  1. The I WANT TO BE A CHEF- BAKING reminds me of my favorite cookbook as a child -- it focused JUST on baking cookies. I wonder if I have that anymore ...

  2. I agree that the the hand-lettered text is difficult to read for Bon Appetit. I wonder if the author could have packed in so very much information about Julia Child if she had used a more conventional font?

  3. Oh, by the way, when I clicked on your Nonfiction Monday link at the host's website, it took me to an older post for some reason...

  4. My son just got a Star Wars themed cookbook that he loves!

  5. These are pretty good titles! I don't cook much (my husband is our resident Chef), but I would like my daughter to learn a few basics. The Julia Child picture book, I know, is pretty celebrated as well. Thanks for sharing all these yummylicious titles.