Clare Crespo's delightful debut, The Secret Life of Food
will spark children's imaginations in the kitchen and give playful grownups a host of ideas for hip and colorful concoctions to serve at their next dinner party. In the quirky tradition of Play with Your Food
and the whimsical work of "Surreal Gourmet" Bob Blumer
, The Secret Life of Food
presents 46 fun recipes--including Tarantula Cookies, Monkey Pops, and Spaghetti with Eyeballs--destined to be hits on the children's birthday and Halloween party circuit.
Some of the recipes are amazingly simple: Caterpillar Cake calls for 10 Hostess Sno Balls, two google eyes, and a handful of artfully arranged pipe cleaners; the Football Meatloaf is--you guessed it--a football-shaped meatloaf with onion slices for stitching. Standouts include Pond Pie (a plastic frog resting on the surface of a mint-green vanilla pudding pie with assorted fresh herbs peeking over the chocolate-cookie-crust perimeter), Jell-O Aquarium (a small fishbowl with Berry Blue Jell-O "water," Swedish fish, and fruit cocktail "gravel"), Flower Pot Cakes (chocolate cake baked in individual terra cotta pots, each with a single long-stemmed flower poking through the "dirt"), and Sushi Cupcakes (green Fruit Roll-Ups for seaweed, coconut frosting for rice, and dried mangoes for ginger).
Eric Staudenmaier's colorful photography and Lisa Barnett's artful food styling really makes this book sing. But would the Cherry Roses look as tempting sitting on a dessert plate as they do peeking out of a real floral bouquet? Probably not. And, granted, many of the recipes are intended as blueprints for your imagination, but more detailed instructions would have been helpful in some recipes. ("Shape the dough into insect shapes and decorate with small candies or mixed nuts" is miles away from the fanciful finished Candy Bugs flittering in the photograph on the opposite page.) Overall, though, Crespo's collection will provide hours of culinary exploration for kids and grownups alike. --Brad Thomas Parsons
From Publishers Weekly
"For me, food is an art supply," writes Crespo, who teaches children's cooking classes. In this mixed bag of party gags, all impressively presented in this high-gloss album, she gives directions for 43 edible crafts, which Staudenmaier pictures in appropriate habitats (a "Football Meatloaf" sits on Astroturf; a matching shirt and pants-shaped cake in a laundry room). Some items prove messy and potentially frustrating: "Sushi Cupcakes" require fruit roll-ups and coconut frosting to approximate seaweed and rice; "Jell-O Eggs" are prepared in washed-out eggshells; and "Handwiches" ask artists to "cut the bread into hand shapes." Non-professionals are better off attempting "Anatomical Heart Cookies," decorated with squiggly veins and arteries, or "Pretzel Butterflies" with caramel centers and pretzel-knot wings. Halloweeny gross-outs are in abundance: sliced almonds resemble fingernails on "Finger Cookies"; stuffed olives are inserted in meatballs to make "Spaghetti with Eyeballs"; and non-vegetarians will love "Mutant Chicken," a roast chicken to which extra drumsticks are attached with toothpicks (it "was the fastest one in the barnyard," a caption quips). Tidy chefs may think twice before whipping up "Jell-O Aquarium" in a fishbowl, but Crespo suggests newfangled ways to update ordinary cupcakes and puddings, and Staudenmaier's crisp close-ups are the icing on the cake. All ages.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.