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The Secret Life of Food Paperback – September 2, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Series: Secret Life of...
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (September 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786837357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786837359
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,031,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
So I walk into [a local store] yesterday to find a book to take to my ill friend in the hospital. Something enjoyable, fun, cute, and if possible, hilarious. I thought I'd be searching for hours. However, I found Claire's book in only minutes and was drawn to it. I bought two! This book is everything I was looking for with extra emphasis on the fun factor! I predict it's going to sell a million.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are a creative person you might be able to come up with some of these recipes on your own. Also, some of these are listed on her webpage with the same name.
So, if you are looking for just one cute idea to take to a party, you might skip the book and visit the author's website.
If you teach young children or stay at home with them, you might find that this book is a true winner. My son loves looking at htis book. We have made some of these recipes. They are very easy to make and require mostly on hand ingredients. Some do require things we don't normally have on hand (like pink marshmellow coconut cakes.)
Everything is very easy to make. Some of the items are made from already prepared foods and just arranged to look like something else.
Very creative, very fun.
Enjoy.
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By A Customer on March 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A fun and creative book. I love making these "out of this world" recipes with my 5 year old. A great gift too!!!!!
The photography is beautifully shot.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is yummy fun for anyone trying to coax young ones to eat - and it's fun for parents who are dying of boredom from boiled hotdogs and instant mac-n-cheese. With three kids under four years of age, I'm looking for all the inspriation I can get - and this book is it! It's a great gift for the birthday party circuit as well. Crespo has done a great job.
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Format: Hardcover
Clare Crespo's The Secret Life of Food is a delightful romp through the glorious world of food as art. This is truly a book for the family to live by, laugh by and play by. I can't wait to have a secret life party and put my friends to the test of replicating Crespo's recipes while challenging them to create a few original ones.
Thanks to Crespo for putting us in touch with the comfort and community food provides for all of us. She clearly understands the value of food and its creation as an elixir for all that ail you. This book makes your next meatloaf a magical affair! I can't wait to try these recipes.
Kudos to Clare Crespo for demonstrating what many of us have always felt - food is art and cooking is the best therapy possible.
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Format: Paperback
There are loads of beautiful photos and great ideas in this book. However, the instructions are vague and in some cases, just don't work as planned.

The jello fish bowl is a great example of this. The recipe calls for Berry Blue jello, which is too dark and cloudy to see through. You will never have something that looks like the photograph. Time and again fruit salad does not sink to the bottom to create the gravel.

In this book as well as Hello Cupcake, it seems that certain secrets to making photo perfect treats are left out. While you will find loads of inspiration, you may also find frustration with these recipes.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first saw this book on a table at a friends house I said out loud, "This looks great what is it?" To my surprise I was treated to the most clever, intelligent, and creative approach to a "cook book" imaginable. Ms. Crespo's book has beautiful photographs, great style and a fun approach to creative food thought and preparation. I highly recommend it for all ages. What a fun way to have a party. Who needs a martini?
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Format: Hardcover
the author must be fun to be around- shes got tons of imagination and adorable ideas. perfect for anyone with children, or who works with children...also a great book to have on hand when planning a party for children OR adults.
the recipies are very clear and concise, with large photos and easy instructions. most recipies involve shaping food into some sort of animal, anatomy, home thing, etc.
i like this book becasue i take care of kids who won't eat without a lot of coaxing and if they sait and make soemthing with me, they are very likely to eat it (and play with it) However the only drawback is alot of the food is dessert type stuff, but there are some great entrees and vegitables too.
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