Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Foodie Pick: Man With a Pan

Man With a Pan
edited by John Donohue
Algonquin
2011
326 pages

This is a great gift for upcoming Father's Day or any man's/boy's birthday:

Humorous, touching, quirky, and comforting, Man With a Pan is a satisfying collection of twenty-one famous authors' and cooks' stories of their own cooking adventures for their families. Throw in Mario Batali and season well with some spicy Stephen King and you have a great simmering pot of literary and culinary "tales of fathers who cook for their families."

I truly enjoyed reading tales of woe and tales of human kindness. From Sean Wilsey, living in NYC when the World Trade Center was hit on 9/11, he says, "the first thing I did was boil a pot of pasta. I made ravioli at ten thirty in the morning....and began to grasp what was happening." Pasta, it seems, helps in a crisis, even one as huge as that horrific event in American history. Each father/cook shares his favorite recipes and what's on his culinary bookshelf as well. Foodies will be sure to devour their stories and want to try their hand at some of the recipes. An interesting recipe that sounds delicious from Wilsey is "Pistachio Pesto" which I wouldn't even consider a pesto since there's no basil. He substitutes Bottarga di muggine which is gray mullet roe available on the web or in Italian specialty stores.

From Daniel Moultroup, recipes include an easy recipe for pickles and how to can fresh tomato sauce; from Christopher Little--a delicious sounding Low Country Boil featuring sausage, crawfish, shrimp and beer. Stephen King gives directions on the proper care of cooking an omelet with only a few expletives and how to prepare fish in the microwave, yes...the microwave, and a wonderful recipe for chocolate cake he calls "Pretty Good Cake."

More than one father/cook stresses the importance of getting the kids to help prepare the meal, whatever it is. This helps them take ownership and they are more likely to try what's on the menu if they help in the prep. Mario Batali tells readers not to make any new ingredient a big production. Simply prepare it and put it on the table. If the kids ask what it is, you simply say, "pesto" or "cardoons." A cardoon is a little like an artichoke in appearance or a tall stalk of celery and Batali swears they are great sauteed and then hit with a bunch of fontina cheese. I mean, what isn't delicious with fontina?

Teens who love food and have an apetite for culinary adventure are sure to be fans of Man With a Pan. With more and more fathers involved in child-rearing and cooking, more boys may pursue careers in kitchens around the world. The Food Network has made cooking cool, and chefs like Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay--wildly popular chefs with restaurants and cookbooks and huge empires making serious bank--have teen fans--many of them male--who are watching and learning.

Highly, highly recommended grade 8-up. One or two mentions of sex but no details. Some language--especially Stephen King--you gotta love him.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


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