|Real Recipes for Casual Cooks: A Comic Book Cookbook. Written by Lynn Gordon. Illustrated by Lloyd Dangle. New York: Main Street Books/Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1996. 64p. $10.95. ISBN 0-385-48208-6.|
Formatting problems aside, the books contains a bare minimum of recipes for the price. (I got the book at a remainder store for five bucks, and it still feels overpriced.) As may be evident by my examples above, the recipes are very basic and simple. They often call for prepackaged foods (e.g., the "Outrageous Chocolate Butterscotch Toffee Cake" is based on a box of german chocolate cake mix). They're the sorts of recipes one would find in one of those monthly "quick recipe" cookbooks from Pillsbury; actually, some of the recipes are even more basic than that (e.g., rice, scrambled eggs). Thus, your opinion of how a given recipe would taste would depend on your level of "foodiness" and willingness to use prepackaged foods. If dijon mustard, salt, and pepper as the sole flavorings for baked chicken sound good to you, this book is right up your alley.
The cartoony art, while it's fun to look at, seems more a luxury than a useful set of illustrations. While Gordon and Dangle obviously aspired to something akin to the Cartoon Guides, there's a huge difference between those classic titles and this one. The illustrations in the former often contained images that expanded on the narrative, while in the latter, the images seem arbitrary and even disconnected from the narrative. Why, for example, does a devil prepare Ultra Chocolate Mousse? Also, most steps in cooking don't actually need to be illustrated, which meant that Dangle had to illustrate such trivia as pouring the chocolate chips into the pan and scooping out some instant coffee crystals. It's cute... but when I'm cooking, "cute" is distracting.
As a very basic cookbook, one aimed at completely inexperienced cooks (or kids) intimidated by the traditional text-and-picture cookbook, this title might have some utility. The hints and "kitchen disaster page" are useful. However, there are plenty of "cooking for dummies"-type cookbooks in the traditional format, with more useful and pertinent illustrations in appropriate places, that are easier to use and contain more recipes.
Return to Rational Magic Home