Cookin' with Coolio
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Cookin' with Coolio / 978-1-43911-761-3
In retrospect, when I selected this from Amazon Vine, I probably wasn't the best target audience for this - from the sparse description offered, I thought this was a cook book with a humorous tone, and now I see that it's really more of a humor book with recipes. So, in as much as I am slightly disappointed with "Cookin' with Coolio", keep in mind that Your Mileage May Vary, if you're buying this for the humor and the recipes are just icing on the cake for you.
Having said that, this isn't really my style of humor anyway. The introduction pretty much exhausts all the material here - substitute slang for the usual cooking terminology rigmarole, drop profanity early and often, and use as many food metaphors as possible as euphemisms for sex (credit where credit is due: none of the many, many, many references to sexuality in this book appear to be overtly sexist - Coolio just stresses frequently that the best way to a person's, um, *heart* is through their stomach). The introduction is cute and clever, if you like that sort of thing, and if you do, then this would make a good coffee table book, I suppose, but the same shtick over and over will probably get old after the first dozen recipes.
The reason I say this is a humor book with recipes and not a cook book with humor is that, well, as a cook book, I just don't think this book could stand alone. The cutesy 'ghetto slang' is tricky to remember, and you'll be doing a lot of flipping to find the one or two random recipes where a conversion for that item was offered - was a 'dimebag' of parsley a TABLEspoon or a TEAspoon? Many of the instructions are vague and hard to follow (and I say this as a long-time amateur cook who can usually connect the dots in case of poor instructions), because most (if not all) of the given step was devoted to humor and innuendo rather than cooking clarity.
As far as the actual recipes go, I'm disappointed to note that the book has almost no pictures and definitely no pictorial steps shown - all we get are a few glossy photos of some of the finished creations, stuck in the middle of the book. Since I've gotten to the point in my life where I almost won't even buy a recipe book without proper 'assembly' pictures on the relevant recipe pages, this was a disappointment. And the lack of pictorial steps shown doesn't help the beginner chef to cover the gaps between the vague instructions.
There's also not a lot of variety here - if you use the Amazon "look inside this book" feature to browse the index, you'll note that the "Dessert" section alone has only 5 recipes - one of which, the "Hot Fruit Sandwich", basically involves sticking fruit between two pieces of sandwich bread. The "Vegetarian / Vegetable" section has 6 recipes, only a couple of which fit the traditional 'side dish' type of recipe. There are, however, quite a lot of meat-featured main dish style recipes to try, so if you're just looking for 'main dishes' to serve at home, you might find a lot here to like.
Despite the premise, that this book can teach anybody to cook regardless of background, I think that's probably wrong - without detailed instructions, or at least pictures, I think most novice cooks would struggle with this book. Advanced cooks will be able to fill in the blanks, but the simplicity of these recipes will practically ensure that advanced cooks will already have encountered and tried much of everything here. So, in the end, you're probably coming to this for the humor value. My advice would be to flip through the pages shown here on Amazon, and if it's the sort of thing you'd like on your coffee table, snap it up and enjoy.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll
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