Friday, August 3, 2007

Becky's Third Book: Regrettable Food Fun

Review originally appeared at Becky's Book Reviews

Part of me thinks it should almost be illegal to have this much fun reading a book. Seriously. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. The book that inspired such fun and giggles is James Lileks' The Gallery of Regrettable Food: Highlights from Classic American Recipe Books. Why now? The Something-About-Me Challenge of course. This gem of a book is from Tiny Librarian's list.

This book got its start when the author, James Lileks, found an unbelievable book in his mother's closet--a "pristine" copy of Specialties of the House. A cookbook that arrived via the neighborhood Welcome Wagon in the early sixties. He writes in the introduction, "The truth of those times won't be found in these pages. These are the commercial bones of the past, what we're left with." (14)

This book isn't for everyone. Let me tell you that right now. It's not a clean read. The humor sometimes turns adult in nature. And its dosed largely with sarcasm. But there is just something so perfect about this book. It's funny. It's witty. It's brilliant.

The book consists of two things: pictures and illustrations and captions taken from authentic cookbooks from America's past (30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s) and adds the "observations" of Lileks. Both can get you into trouble. Sure you might laugh if you look only at the pictures, but once you start reading his're bound to laugh even harder.

I've been struggling on how best to capture and convey what this book is really like...since I know that most people won't rush on out and see for themselves...

The very least I can do is link to what portions are online...Excerpts of Gallery of Regrettable Food

Actually, I've just been exploring the links...and it seems these are things that aren't in the book. They're extra. They're even-more zany fun that I'll have to explore!! But even so, you'll know if you want to find the real book by examining this site.

And my particular favorite...note the recipe for "Sherry Cream" meant to be an exciting cocktail drink.

Be sure to visit Lileks' other site as well:

The Institute of Official Cheer

What does this book say about Tiny Librarian? That she has a great sense of humor. That she'd be fun to hang out with. That we are kindred spirits.


tinylittlelibrarian said...

Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And that we're kindred spirits. :)

My husband and I are actually having a Regrettable Food party this weekend, inspired by the hard-boiled egg penguins in the book. So I've just re-read it, looking for ideas and had a good laugh. I'd love to have Lileks over for dinner (regrettable or not) - he's so hilarious.

Becky said...

What a great party idea! It sounds like great fun :)

what'sinyoursoul said...

I got this book from the library a couple of years ago and just about died - hilarious! The pictures, the captions, the sensibility.