Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Review: Dishing with the Kitchen Virgin
Dishing With the Kitchen Virgin by Susan Reinhardt
Reasons for reading: my husband pointed out on my library's New Books shelf because he thinks I think that I am one (though he says he doesn't think that); my book about cooking for the Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge.
Description: "... welcome to the Kitchen Virgin Club... you're in the illustrious company of Susan Reinhardt: syndicated columnist, spokeswoman for skewed southern bellehood...and one truly lousy cook. In this cleaver-sharp new collection of food stories, culinary missteps, and recipes from yummy to yucky, Reinhardt comes clean--way clean--as the unapologetic product of a long line of talented, fascinating, funny women who have regular brushes with homicide by pot roast. From "The Toaster Oven is a Bee-otch" to "When Road Kill Makes it to Mikasa," as well as the titular tale of the socialite who shaved her fuzzy greens, these stranger-than-fiction accounts will have you laughing until milk spews out of your nose. And for those inspired to graduate from Kitchen Virgin to Kitchen 'Tute, there's "Bone Apple Cheat!"-- Reinhardt's own shortcut-to-real-food recipes. So next time you're tempted to make Taco Bell your last (okay, first) resort, crack open this book, have a laugh...and get cookin'."
My thoughts: I'm not exactly a kitchen virgin - I think I'm more like a kitchen re-virgin. I used to love cooking when I was a teenager - I got an award in Home Ec class and was the teacher's assistant. But as I've gotten older I find it stressful - I have a big issue with getting things right. While my husband is happy to adapt recipes and tinker, I want everything to be perfect and if it's not, I'm stressed. So, since he's a more creative and happier cook, I've basically turned it over to him. My best friend is a wonderful cook, with true natural talent, and while I love to be the recipient of the fruits of her labours, I can't imagine being able to replicate them, at least without bursting into tears of frustration. I also come from a rather non-cooking family - like Reinhardt, Tuna Helper and other pre-fab foods were big in my household. Also like Reinhardt, I like to watch the Food Network (though more the competition and travel-based shows, rather than the actual food-prep ones - and anything with hunky Gordon Ramsay) and I've been known to read recipes in magazines and dream "of the day I might actually concoct something that resembles the photographs of those delectable dishes."
This book reminded a lot of Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank - a Southern journalist writing family/women's humour. Which sounds condescending when I write it out, but I don't mean it to - I like that kind of humour! Food is a theme in each chapter - there's rather too much info about collards (though I liked the discussion about how a town's Collard Queen is a virgin and the Homecoming Queen is...not, as well as the story discussed above about the shave-worthy greens). There are "cheater" recipes, white trashy recipes, "dude food" recipes (some very scary, like "Darin's Death of Romance Irish Oatmeal," which consists of "lumpy Irish oatmeal" and baked beans) and even a few recipes that might be worth trying, like various combinations to add to stirfries. There are even tips to make Lunchables have a bit of nutritional value. The story that stays with me the most was Reinhardt's attempt to make an Easter ham while in the early (and later!) stages of labour! Now that's dedication to holiday tradition!
Verdict: A quick, funny, foodie read, perfect for this challenge.