Most helpful critical review
76 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Scary, Cluttered, Completely out of touch
on November 19, 2012
This is the 'Emperor's New Clothes' of cookbooks.
Tom Hanks approves! Foreword by Dr. Harvey Karp! Recipes from Alice Waters!
It sounds like a slice of perfection, but this book misses the mark in a big way.
My main problems with this book are:
1) Laurie David is completely out of touch. When she went back to work, she hired a chef so she could serve dinner promptly at 6:30. Congratulations. How many people can relate to this? Is this the right person to dole out tips and strategies for putting meals together? I couldn't read half the recipes without wondering if a real person with real time constraints had actually cooked these things. Which leads me to...
2) Some recipes are just plain nuts. I'm supposed to create a buffet with 30 different options so my family can bulid their own salad. This just makes me feel angry. What a waste :( However...
3) Some of the recipes insult my intelligence. Chicken Parmesan made from frozen breaded chicken cutlets? Yeah, I've got that covered. I bought this book for dinner ideas. Next!
4) The book is cluttered with anecdotes from celebrities (claiming their perfect mothers sat them down to dinner every night, with flowers and music) but I'm not sure why there are so many of these stories, or why I'm supposed to care. After the first few, they get very repetitive, lead to no recipes or tips, and just lend to the tone of the book feeling self congratulatory.
5) This book reads like a warning! Have family dinners- or else! Statistics about teen drug use don't make me want to get in the kitchen, they make me sad and worried. What happened to empowering family cooks? I'm not feeling it. If there is a place for this kind of information, stick it in the introduction and then drop it. Don't keep sprinkling harrowing facts in with the recipes.
There are some good recipes in here, I can't ignore that. But I STRONGLY believe the best reason to buy a cookbook (rather than perusing thousands of the well tested, well reviewed, FREE recipes that exist online) is to get inspired about cooking. This is not that book.
-Dinner: a Love Story (a real mom with a real life, real budget, etc)
-The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper (food pairings and menu suggestions! Great tips throughout)
-any book that has pictures that match the recipe (ha! page 50 (left side) of the family dinner features a full page picture of edamame. Page 51(right side) has a recipe for cabbage and noodles, and savory sausage and white bean stew. No edamame in either of these. What happened there? It frustrates me! Did no one edit the layout of this book?) But for those who get it right- Donna Hay is fabulous, and Nigella, Ina, and Martha do well with the beautiful food.