Cookbooks That Kill: Creative Crisis Cookery
As the cookbook section in bookstores continues to swell and eclecticize, it seems germane to reproduce this underappreciated holiday gem, recipient of a 100-star rave review on the iconic website #!#&?**cookbooksthatkill.gulp!you'reDed.com.
OLD COUNTRY CURSES BECOME DISHES THAT DESTROY
May You Grow Like An Onion With Your Head In the Ground: The Casseroles And The Curses That Saved My Bacon When It Seemed My Goose Was Cooked. By Gennifer-George Parminter-Schwartz.
Reviewed by J. Hervé Coulibac-Panisse
This season has brought a welcome crop of moving and mouthwatering disaster cookbooks -- cookeramas that showed the redemptive power of kitchening one's way out of fate's deepest darkest pits.
We at #!#&?**cookbooksthatkill.gulp!you'reDed.com have previously taken note of the memorable ones that tugged our heartstrings and fired our grills: Jordan Kubricki's poignant This Is My Goddamned Life Cookbook: Fifty Flambes That Kept Me Arguably Sane. Helga-Olga Escoffiereska's pithy Dishes And Ill Wishes: How I Survived The Worst Fucking Year Ever. Hamlet Tanenbaum's Eye Of Newt, Tongue Of Bat, And Me: Thirteen Patés That Killed, sequel to his seminal The Why Does Everything Happen To Me? Cookbook: A Twelvemonth of Treats and Trichinosis.
Not to forget the timeless indispensable standards:
I'm Not Okay You' re Not OK: Delicious Dishes for Your Last Supper.
They Cancelled My Series: Sheetpans for Shitstorms.
I Bought Blackberry Stock: Dumpster Dining Goes Gourmet.
However, in May You Grow Like An Onion With Your Head In the Ground: The Casseroles And The Curses That Saved My Bacon When It Seemed My Goose Was Cooked, a legendary crusted-casserole queen has breached heart-stopping and tongue-tingling new territory.
From the first lines of her intro, Oprah-favourite and Coachella-fixture Gennifer-George Parminter-Schwartz sweeps you up and away in a simmering saga of recipes, redemption and revenge that grips like hot tongs, and never lets go.
"It was 11 a.m. on the day after Epiphany, the first snowflakes frolicking past my vast corner office window. When I heard the knock, I knew it would be MaryBob-Sonya, my devoted PA, whom I had tirelessly groomed from mailroom slut to executive-assistantdom, come to escort me to Channel Five's morning RRRecipe RRRoundup. But when the door was flung open, I found myself staring at a MaryBob-Sonya I realized I had never really, truly known."
At the sight of MaryBob-Sonya blowing raspberries and waggling her fingers in her ears, surrounded by hooting, mooning fellow staffers, Gennifer-George Parminter-Schwartz had her first sense that her glory years as East Harleyville Tennessee TV's Cold-Casserole Queen might be numbered.
On that very day, when it seemed nothing worse could happen, she returned home to find that her husband Rory had moved in with his golf pro; and King Viceroy, her million-dollar stud stallion, was self-identifying as a mare.
She knew she had to take life in hand, or be hurled to its depths. Thus began a journey that took Parminter-Schwartz from downest downs to uppest ups, via the only vehicle she knew: a cracked and encrusted vintage earthenware casserole.
Finding solace in the rich tradition of curses handed down by her late grandfather, a Bukowina-born arsonist, she fashions original and often electrifying casserole recipes, one for each curse, layering them with delicately bittersweet epiphanies.
What unfolds is a graceful and succulent account, peppered with wry wisdoms and thrillingly unexpected ingredients -- and salted with heartburning moments from her diary...
October...shitty sleety Sunday. Viceroy stomping in her/their stall...Well, no miniature golf today...What to make for tea? Through the clouded window -- the last of the season's chokecherries: no longer bright, firm...pale, limper now but somehow with a different beauty in their pursiness, their fragrance of decay....In the larder, tuna...or no, it's cat food...perfect....
From these peeks into purgatory comes a heart-slowing and tummy-turning Rolodex of curses reborn as casseroles, abrim with righteously-warmed redemption:
He Should Give It All Away To Doctors Mock-Tuna Chokecherry Rillettes For Rory.
They Should Grow Like Onions With Their Heads In The Ground Devil's Food Dirt Pie Delight.
Leeches Should Drink Him Dry Uncooked Blood Sausage And Bitter Almond Braise.
May He Turn Into Blintzes And Be Eaten By A Cat Marmite Prune & Peroxide Bake.
They Should All Burn In Hell And Bake Bagels They Can't Eat Mouldy Bread Pudding With Wasabi Reduction.
Let Them Swallow Umbrellas That Should Open In Their Bellies Anchovy Cheesecake Sesame Snap.
Standard in every recipe is a pint of Parminter-Schwartz's favourite 90-proof bourbon, Old Tom '97 ("Drink before cooking"), plus useful substitutes for hard-to-find ingredients like tongue-of-newt ( "Use fermented anchovy-caper paste, readily available in Bosnian organic health food stores").
All dishes, she notes, are best served frozen.