Growing up, both of my parents were chefs. They worked split shifts six-days-a-week in the same claustrophobic kitchen for years during the 80s and 90s.
Being people who took their craft seriously, our bookshelves at home came packed with raggedy cookbooks whose pages were splashed with marinara sauce, dusted with flour and scrawled with notes and modifications.
The quintessential 80s cookbook cover depicted a full table, seven-course spread in low lighting, meats glazed and plasticky, tooth-rotting deserts arranged into peculiarly perfect shapes, and the oft-rotund chef in the background wearing his toque blanche, gurning. Oh, how the aesthetic of appetite has changed.
Among the plethora of fabulously useful cookbooks, many managed to slip through the net and hit the shelves for reasons unbeknown to the food world.
I’ve done a scrape through the internet and found some of the most absurd and ridiculous cookbooks miraculously brought to market.
1. Let’s Play Hide The Sausage
This book doesn’t need an explanation; it’s funny enough on its own.
2. Cooking To Kill!
Cooking to Kill by Ebenezer Murgatroyd (whose name alone should indicate just how old this book is) is a tongue-in-cheek little book of poisons and potions for the more gentlemanly murdering psychopath. The sole slightly creepy Amazon comment reads: “Fun little book to tuck into her Halloween gift bag. She seemed like she liked it but, I guess she liked the candy better. Smiles.”
3. Cooking With Fat
If you go to a dinner party at Craig Preston and Pat Sheil’s house chances are you’ll be murdered and freebased in your own lard (we believe that is called a confit). This deranged looking cookbook promises to be the “grossest, greasiest cookbook ever published”. No thanks, you absolute maniacs.
4. Spam The Cookbook
From sushi to sliders, chances are you are well acquainted with this sweaty pink matter that has found its way into a plethora of uninvited places of late.
While Hawaii is probably the Spam capital of the world, Spam, in general, is having a renaissance, and this cookbook will show the discerning global user how to mask its abattoir floor flavor in a variety of novel ways. Spam en Croute anyone?
5. Natural Harvest: A collection of semen-based recipes
This could well be the weirdest and most stomach-curdling cookbook ever created. Yes, folks, this is a cookbook that exists purely on the assumption that someone, somewhere would like to incorporate semen into their diet.
Writer Paul ‘Fotie’ Photenhauer even goes so far as to state: “Like fine wine and cheeses, the taste of semen is complex and dynamic. Semen is inexpensive to produce and is commonly available in many, if not most, homes and restaurants.” You could say that.
6. The “Why Am I Such A Fat Bastard” Recipe Book
Rather than strive to answer the question it’s cover presents or work towards a conclusion about obesity, Buster Parrish gets straight to work and gives you exactly what you want. Calories, high blood pressure, diabetes, and low self-esteem administered excessively and orally.
7. Microwave Cooking for One
Poor old Marie T. Smith. There is so much sadness in this photograph, but work past that and appreciate the sheer variety of uses she has managed to find for an appliance many of us only use to reheat the curry we bought while drunk.
8. The Vulgar Chef Presents The Eat Like S*hit Cookbook
One of my biggest pet peeves in the last few years has been what I call “internet food.” Perpetrated by Guy Fieri and those Man Vs Food clowns, there has been this obsession with creating the zaniest, most unhealthy hybrid meal for idiots to salivate over online. Anyway, a ramen taco from The Vulgar Chef is arguably the archetypal “internet food."
9. Fifty Shades of Chicken
This little 50 Shades of Grey spin-off has an admittedly superb cover that subtly suggests BDSM. “The way his apron hangs from his hips already has me all wobbly,” the introduction for the ‘Dripping Thighs’ recipe starts. “But as he coats my thighs with sticky liquid I can hardly contain myself. Is it the wine, or is my aroma starting to drive him crazy too? He heats me up fast; it won’t take much too?”
10. The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook
To some of the CrossFit obsessed and people from 80% of the global nations aside the U.S., eating bugs isn’t that bizarre. But alas, the high protein and delectable shell crunch are still a little much for most Americans to handle. But the curried larvae above does make us want to go full Timon and Pumbaa.