From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Ketchup Pistachio Cake. Meat Pie with Meat Crust. Baked Peppers with Creamy Marshmallow Sauce. Daring readers will come face to face with these and worse in this excellent book that's bursting with photographs, recipes, and bits of text and "tips" taken from mainstream American cookbooks of the 1940s-70s, when "the only spice permitted in excess [was] fat." Fascinating and valuable in their own right as cultural artifacts of the era, the entries are irresistible when accompanied by Lileks's hilarious running commentary. Jell-O gets its own chapter, and deservedly so; other sections include "Horrors from the Briny Deep" and "Cooking for a MAN: Tested Recipes to Please HIM!" YAs already familiar with the author's popular Web site "The Institute of Official Cheer" (www.lileks.com) will be thrilled to see that the book is just as wonderfully designed as the site. Those encountering Lileks for the first time are in for an even bigger treat than the "foamy prune whip with cherry gel" found within.
Emily Lloyd, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Lileks pokes fun at food advertising and promotional ideas from the '50s nascent food industry. Making sport of the assumptions that underlay American cookery at mid-century is an easy target. The reigning belief that anything technological or manufactured was by definition superior to nature's bounty today appears naive at best. Add to that the mindless nutritional opinions of the era, and there's plenty of laughter to be found in these ads. A vibrantly rendered shot of a thick, untrimmed porterhouse steak slathered with ketchup and then topped with sliced hard-boiled eggs looks ready to clot every coronary artery, not to mention its complete void of fresh flavors. Most hilarious are advertisements showing pretentious "French" chefs promoting their favorite ways to use marshmallows. How a dish of scrambled eggs topped with cheese, ketchup, and cream of mushroom soup earned the moniker "Eggs Oriental" goes beyond the inscrutable. Mark KnoblauchCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved