Irises and A Cookbook Comparison
Saving Flowers; Bourdain's "Appetites" and Tiegen's "Cravings: All Together"
When It Rains, Gather the Flowers
This vase is a reminder that sometimes a steady downpour not only leads to May flowers, but to bringing them into your home. If these Iris blooms hadn’t been hangings 2/3 of the way to mud I wouldn’t have brought in such a fabulous display! Makes me so happy to see them on the counter.
I spent a couple hours reading “Appetites - A Cookbook” by Anthony Bourdain followed immediately by “Cravings - All Together” by Chrissy Tiegen.
Despite the many differences, they both center around feeding family.
Why did I do this? I was in the in Seattle Public Library with a limited selection of cookbooks and I wanted to take two different personalities and ponder food in the context of their lives.
Bourdain’s Appetites is a grotesque and humorous look into the real mess of life and cooking. Some of the photos featured bird carcasses and skulls, sometimes posed so ridiculously as if to poke fun at the notion of respecting ingredients. I did feel nostalgic for a few things in the book - New Jersey hard roll sandwiches, stories about cooking in New York City, and the Italian-American recipes that punctuate the pages.
Tiegen’s Cravings: All Together is a colorful and joyous celebration of eating together with family in spite of lockdowns and everything else going on in the world. While reading her book, I realized I don’t know much about Chrissy; wikipedia states she was born in Utah, raised in WA state and then moved to LA, but the various big brown and lots of it casserole recipes feel like she must have a solid following in the Midwest. Teigen is stunningly beautiful and her recipes are delicious-looking but likely not conducive to me trying to get as fit as she looks!
Noticeably there were very few photos of Anthony’s daughter in his book. When she was shown, her face was obscured. There was a whole paragraph in the introduction about how Anthony had made the choice to deal with fame, and “…. When she’s 18 she can make the same decision.” In contrast, Chrissy makes prominent use of her children in many of the photos in the book. Her children are charming, well-dressed and gorgeous. I admire from afar because the edited perfection of the Tiegen photo shoots are just as affecting as the raw ugliness of the Bourdain photos. They’re beyond reality, not everyday, and put a barrier between the author and reader.
Chrissy appears to want to have a potty mouth, but the editing decision to turn the many fucks into f*cks is one to gloss over the roughness and realness. I don’t care if she curses, in fact it would be a nice counterpoint to the perfectly staged photos in diaphanous dresses that never drift into the gas flame on the stove. Anthony is rough, cursing, making crass asides and being completely honest that he may have in the past poached eggs halfway, chilled them, and reheated them later for 300 guests. At the same time, knowing what we know now I almost wish I could send him something to cheer him up.
There is pain in both books. Tiegen dedicated her book to her Jack, an acknowledgment of personal tragedy and pain. While she’s fit and gorgeous I do believe that the anxiety of covid did lead to actually eating one of the many cheese-laden and solidly bad-for-you dips. Bourdain in one photo spread is surrounded by quickly-spoiling decadence and Epic Ripert spits his wine onto the floor; Anthony gazes into the distance, looking like he’s not quite there and ready to go be alone. He detailed getting bullied in 3rd grade.
Is Tiegen’s meatloaf Wellington a revelation? Not sure, but my husband thinks it sounds great. Would I touch the Korean Army Stew in Bourdain’s book? Again, I read the ingredient list to my husband: a partial list includes seaweed, hot dogs, Kimchi, spam, ramen, and various sauces to turn the mix a hot electric red. I always think about food in context of feeding my whole family, so I have that in common with the authors. Both books don’t focus on dessert.
All in all, I learned that to please a crowd ALWAYS have pigs-in-a-blanket on hand and that if you really want an excellent pasta dish fork out the money for some white truffles.