Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery
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Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery [Hardcover]

James Lileks
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 27, 2007
It was a time of innocence, nuclear families, traditional values . . . and BAD FOOD.

In an era where cooks wanted to put their best foot forward, there was no end to the creative, cost-efficient, and cream-based dishes that disgraced the family dinner table, the cocktail party, or the neighborhood BBQ. Recipes involving ingredients like ground meat, bananas, and cottage cheese sound innocent enough—unless you mix them all together in a strange attempt to cover every food group at once.

In Gastroanomalies, James Lileks gathers another remarkable assortment of dishes that once inspired cooks to brave new heights but now inspire sour stomachs and thoughts of “how did I survive?” Highlighted with excerpts from bizarre cookbooks (like Joan Crawford shilling for Bisquick), dubious images (is it meat or chocolate ice cream?), ads heralding the latest in kitchen technology (how about a bacon-egger?), and Lileks’s acerbic, off-the-wall commentary (“Put your ear close, and you can actually hear the meat screaming in terror”), Gastroanomalies is an irresistible retro documentation of a bygone era when artisanal cheese and vegetables lightly steamed (not boiled to mush) were still light-years away. Gastroanomalies will have foodies, baby boomers, and lovers of kitsch in stitches.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JAMES LILEKS is the author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food, Mommy Knows Worst, and Interior Desecrations. Visit his popular website at

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (November 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307383075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307383075
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's time for a potluck -- What Would Satan Do? November 30, 2007
If I could, I would give this book six stars. I just bought it at my local Big Box Bookstore and sat down to read it in the store but literally had to leave because I was laughing so hard. People were looking at me funny. So I read it at home, making those alarming laugh-snort-gasping sounds. Now my dog is looking at me funny.

Once again, Jame Lileks skewers the horrible foods of the mid-20th century. How could things so bland and tasteless manage to look so disgusting? Why are the colors of these dishes brought to us by Technicolor on steroids? Yes, this was the era when " 'Mexican' meant three entire grains of pepper added to a gallon of tomato juice" and pizza crusts -- when pizza was consumed at all -- seemed to be made of Saltine cracker crumbs. Lileks also shows us what Satan brings to every darn potluck (Silly me. I thought he'd bring lutefisk.), and ponders the secret ingredient in the oceans of white sauce -- bleach, maybe?

If you loved Lileks's "Gallery of Regrettable Food" and thought it was one of the best humor books ever, like I did, come back for a hearty, heapin', second helping of lard-filled laughter, held up for your amusement in a colorful yet quivering aspic.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wanna eat less? Skim through this first! November 29, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The chapter on "how to drive off your husband with lousy cooking" is some of the funniest, horriblest photography and writing I've had the pleasure of reading in months. Lileks is wonderfully droll.

The meat dishes are disgusting. What on earth were these folks thinking?

For samples of the author's sense of humor, his website is [...] If you like what you see, buy his books and keep him in business.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SHOW HER MR. BANANA! November 30, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
James Lileks has done it again. I'm still fondest of THE GALLERY OF REGRETTABLE FOOD and INTERIOR DESECRATORS but GASTROANOMALIES deserves a place of (dis)honour near these worthy tomes. This time there is no attempt to explain the origins of the revolting dishes (with one exception: 'food' from Austalia that explains why that country's liberal immigration laws have greatly improved its cuisine since the time of this 'cookbook's' publication--it couldn't have gotten any worse!)
I think Mr. Lileks' creative writing is at its best in the "Please let her pick the bananas" section.
I wonder if any of these dishes were actually prepared by the victi--uh, cooks. If people then were like people now, the books were just for lookin'. Maybe some of the pictures were intended for dieters--you won't want to eat after viewing some of the greasier, sugarier examples in this appallingly hilarious book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lileks strikes again. November 27, 2007
The latest book from James Lileks does not dissapoint. If you enjoyed The Gallery of Regrettable Food you'll certainly get a kick from Gastroanomalies. I'm amazed that these dishes were ever considered appealing to anyone. Lileks strikes home with his scathing critiques of some truly horrifying culinary creations. If you like absurdist humor with a liberal sprinkling of potty jokes, you should enjoy this book. I had to stop reading this at work for it literally made me Laugh Out Loud. I eagerly await future reader reviews from people who thought they were buying a cookbook or are offended that he pokes fun at "Granny's favorite recipe."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lileks does it again November 27, 2007
Lileks does it again, breaths new life into old books and skewers it all like cocktail weenies in a sea of pork and beans.

I wanted to point out that I think Bacon'egger is a former action movie star and the governor of a western state.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should food be this funny? January 6, 2008
If you thought that "The Gallery of Regrettable Food" needed a sequel, then this is the book for you. Call it Gallery 2 - Electric Boogaloo, or just call it a great read!

James Lileks brings all of it to the table: hideous pictures from 50's era cookbooks, snarky comments and keen observations. The result is Mystery Science Theater for cookbooks. You'll never look at meat, or chocolate ice cream the same way again.

As good as the book is, it didn't have as many laugh at loud moments as "The Gallery of Regrettable Food" or "Interior Desecrations". Still any new book by Lileks brings a smile to my face.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LAUGH TILL YOU CRY!!! January 27, 2008
James Lileks is FANTASTIC. Hands down, bar none, point blank and period. (insert more gushing here). I ordered his Interior Desecrations book, and laughed until I was breathless and wet with tears. So I bought EVERYTHING else he had on Amazon. Gastroanomalies pokes fun at the recipes and other culinary abominations from the 50s and 60s. His sense of humor is sarcastic and reminds me of Dennis Miller and Bill Maher and Eddie Izzard all put together, and mocking recipes and interior design choices from the American past. You WILL love his books if you love hanging out with that friend who always has a snarky comment about weird things you see when you hang out.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Very Good December 27, 2007
By B. Ault
As a huge fan of James Lileks, I couldn't wait for this one and I wasn't disappointed. It's very similar to The Gallery of Regrettable Foods, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you don't know his work, I warn you that bad taste humor predominates. The good news is that Lileks is very good at it. I gave it four stars because it doesn't have the freshness of "Regrettable", but it still made me laugh out loud.

P.S. If you follow his website, a little of this will look familiar.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun!
This book is hysterically funny! and really well written.. I bought another one as a gift..
Published 3 months ago by Danielle Aubuchon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love me some Lileks. Funny look at nostalgic recipes.
Published 5 months ago by TAZeisler
2.0 out of 5 stars ... the recipe pics but seriously takes away from the enjoyment of the...
pictures are fuzzy and unclear - it's obviously due to the age of the recipe pics but seriously takes away from the enjoyment of the book.
Published 8 months ago by L Virtue
4.0 out of 5 stars A funny time capsule of 50's cooking
I typically love "weird" books like this and this one does not disappoint. I was raised on the 70's diet of food that came out of a can or a box 75% of the time. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Bellingham Bookworm
4.0 out of 5 stars funny but not as good as his other publications
I have all of James Lilke's books. They are laugh out loud hilarious, except this one, it just amusing. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Carrie
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
Perhaps not quite as sublime as The Gallery of Regrettable Food, but classic Lileks nonetheless. A witty, but loving poke at the now bizarre-seeming gastronomic tastes of our... Read more
Published on April 23, 2013 by mompie
5.0 out of 5 stars Disgusting!
I bought it for my wafe....a personal chef...she'll enjoy it. It's unbelievable how outrageous and annoying some people's imagination can be!
Published on November 21, 2012 by Rodger A. Woodruff
5.0 out of 5 stars Want a good laugh...this delivers.
I love reading old cookbooks and James Lileks does a great job finding off the wall recipes (with pictures) and poking fun at "the old days" and what our mothers used to cook for... Read more
Published on December 21, 2011 by Rita
5.0 out of 5 stars YES.
I love this book. I keep it on my desk at work to lure in unsuspecting passers by, and I read it during lunch- which tends to make things go slow, since eating is harder when you... Read more
Published on March 31, 2011 by Clever Name Goes Here
5.0 out of 5 stars "Bivalve Chunky Spackle Fungus!"
"Gastroanomalies" is another piece of genius from James Lileks, satirist and kitsch commentator par excellence. Read more
Published on March 7, 2011 by Robert I. Hedges
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