Friday, October 2, 2009

Forking Fantastic Book Review

Forking Fantastic is forking fantastic!
When a book says, "Put the party back in dinner party," I expect great and funny things, and the authors do not disappoint.

Perhaps the book is best read with a glass of wine to hand (and mouth). I read the book in smorgasbord format, delving in here, diving in there, pausing in slight consternation (over the lamb, I don't do lamb--but hey, I might try it for a party. One could certainly use two meats at a big enough party!). I read the Intro, then jumped in; only now as I write this review did I discover the first chapter, "Pep Talk," in which the secret powers of cooking for others are revealed: Sex! Art! Power! But I am the cook in my household; I knew that.

Quotes: "Spatchcock: Another word we put in just because we like saying it." (It's Britspeak for butterflying.) "Raw chicken=napalm." From the recipe for Passion Fruit Curd: "Contrary to all cooking logic, more jam does not make it better--believe us, we've tried." "...give a few shakes, just to the point where you start getting embarrassed about the jiggling in your upper arms." Is this too many for reviews? "If only 'Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown' were just an awesome song by the Rolling Stones (re: entertaining.)" I have two favorites, one that is too long to retype but involves sausage gravy and a kindly farm wife--and: "... this is probably the secret of entertaining in a truly grand style: Jump in blindly. Julia would have approved. (Though be warned about the F-word, there's lots of it.)

The authors write both to cooking and entertaining novices and those with experience. They provide wine advice, definitions, and the lovely "learn from our mistakes" asides. There are lots of asides in this book, but I like that. There are also tips on "horde management" and kitchen equipment. I enjoy the relaxed style, as if one of your neighbors were there in your kitchen with you. The design of the book is great as well, allowing you to pay attention to the recipes only or to divert to other matters. Especially great is the fried chicken recipe, formatted for a few friends (1 chicken) or thirty (8 chickens) under the heading, ARE YOU INSANE?

My top recipes to try: Spanish Tortilla with Saffron (amazingly, this is not a flat substitute for bread, but a riff on a frittata!). Overnight Chuck Roast. Fish with pomegranate molasses (okay, the recipe's not in the book, but the suggestion is. I can wing it.). Baci di Ricotta. Step by step recipes, step by step party set-up, this book revives my dreams of the international cooking club I started with my friends in middle school.

Please, please please, Tamara & Zora, come over to my house & play! I, too, keep Jiffy Cornbread mix in my pantry. Behind the wine. And please bring Dapper Dan.

I have recommended the book to my local library system and friends, but I will not be loaning it to anyone. It's mine, all mine. Disclosure: I won the book on a goodreads.com giveaway. Thanks!