Comedy gold, with very practical tips and recipes for the Kitchen Coward or total newbie.
Based on the YouTube Channel of wildly entertaining cooking tips and recipes, the unknown video host has now released a companion cookbook as an unknown author.
This comical gem provides both laughs and useful tips for beginner cooks and those simply afraid of the kitchen. With accessibility in mind, the author offers “simple recipes with a special blend of ridicule and condescension lovingly crafted to spur you on”, along with some others recipes for more advanced cooks.
Every page seems to be comedy gold, allowing this genuine cookbook to simply be read for the fun of it too. With a subtitle stating it is “The Absurdly Practical Guide to Sucking Slightly Less at Making Food”, the book offers hints and tips galore, all laid out beautifully and accompanied by colourful photos by Andy Lee, Thom Driver, Angie Mosier and Dave Crawford.
Following the book’s amusing introduction where the author proclaims that “cooking doesn’t have to be precious or difficult”, he moves on to The Basics – a substantial section that covers Things You Might Need (such as tools, taste buds and a claw grip for cutting), Some Important Ingredients (salt, pepper, oil, onions, etc), tips for Adjusting Flavor (using acid, salt, seasoning, fat and burning things) and, finally, The Mental Game of challenging your mental blocks against cooking.
The recipes are then divided into standard sections including Breakfast, Dips & Snacks, Sandwiches, Soups & Salads, Desserts, etc. each with their own large-font introduction.
At more than 200 pages, which includes over sixty recipes, You Suck at Cooking is a useful kitchen resource and one of the rare tomes that uses comedy to teach how to cook or prepare food.
To test this book, I opted for two of the most ridiculously simple recipes to see just how easy it got. The results speak for themselves:
Zucchini Butter Noodles (page 159)
Almost the entire ingredient list is in the title of this recipe. Just add some garlic and oil, with a bit of parmesan cheese to top it off. Bland? Yes. Even by adding pepper, it needed more to satisfy my demanding taste buds but in fairness, this is a basic recipe that was healthy-ish and filling.
After spiralising the zucchini, I chopped up the leftover bits of zucchini to give the dish extra texture. Waste not, want not! I’d definitely make it again but would also throw in some coriander, mixed vegetables and a few other herbs and spices to give it more flavour. Perhaps even some BBQ chicken.
The author does advise in his introduction that to become a cook, “all you have to do is follow the instructions and then disobey the instructions whenever you feel like it.” Point taken. This recipe also includes substantial notes on the options available to make or get zucchini noodles, although I do question the use of a chainsaw…!
Gas Station Charcuterie Plate (page 88)
Perhaps my favourite recipe of the book is this practical guide to getting petrol and grabbing snacks for unexpected visitors. The recipes follows the process from start to finish, beginning with how to pump petrol into your car, right through to making the most of the shopping convenience that is afforded us around the clock nowadays, leaving no excuse for being unprepared. Jokes aside, the recipe also discusses textures and flavours, balancing colours, and other presentation tips. (photo below is from the book, not my own creation of chips, dips and cheese!).
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: November 2019