Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Gastrokid Cookbook Review

Looly reads cookbooks like a teenage boy with the Victoria's Secret catalog. She sneaks them out of my cupboard and hides them under her bed. She's long preferred thumbing through a few recipes over just about anything else, except Little House on the Prairie. As a result of her fanaticism, we've developed quite a collection of cookbooks aimed at kids. Some are truly phenomenal. Others, not so much.

I admit I'm the one who brought The Gastrokid Cookbook by Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yoemans into the house. I bought it on sale as a birthday gift for Looly because the premise resonated with me: The Foodie Parent's Essential Guide to Raising Passionate, Adventurous Eaters!

I'm not sure I really fit the "foodie" bill. In fact, that word kind of makes me want to throw up, but I do have a well-established interest in cooking and eating and feeding my family well is a priority. I was sold.

Unfortunately, the tone of the book is inherently insulting. And it's a complete and utter shame because the recipes themselves are not bad at all. Grilled Japanese Eggplant with Haloumi and Mint, Salmon Saltimbocca, and Pork with Carmelized Milk Sauce all have my name on them. But every time I pick up this book to try one, I can't get past the pedantic tone of these two idiots, Yoemans and Garvey.

The introduction begins:

"If you're a parent, you don't have time to read cookbooks, which is why we wrote this one."

Aside from the obvious question of why the heck they wrote it if they knew no one was going to read it and instead focus on the fact that I am a parent and I have time to read cookbooks. In fact, I love reading cookbooks and find it therapeutic, fulfilling, and an enjoyable way to spend quality time with my kids. Am I a bad parent? Not busy enough? I thought the idea was to focus on the importance of making the time for good food.

But wait, there's more on page 8.

"We are both working dads with full-time jobs, stressed-out wives, school-aged kids..."

Say what? As a female parent and yes, wife, I can only assume neither of these gentleman asked their own wives to do a quick proofread before the book went to print. Perhaps next time they should call me. I could have helped with a few of these pitfalls.

Like #2 in the Gastrokid Rules for Reclaiming the Family Dinner Table which states that you should "Never call your child a picky eater." See, I would have replaced that one with something like this: "Never refer to your wife as chronically stressed-out in a manuscript destined for mass publication."

Then there are the myriad assumptions about what "little palates" like and don't like. There's this pervasive notion that by simply exposing kids to new flavors and adding a quick dipping sauce or wrapping it in bacon, you can create adventurous, healthy, well-rounded eaters. I tend to disagree.

I get that offering a variety of foods and culinary experiences ups the chances kids are going to partake, but as the mother of three children who have been fed the same diet for years yet have vastly different food preferences and tolerances, I attest it's only part of the equation. And while I don't condone a diet of hot dogs and chicken nuggets as Yoemans and Garvey would lead you to believe most of us do, I also don't judge a parent for serving what's going to work best for their family at any given meal.

My final verdict? Buy the book on sale. Tear out the first 13 pages any throw them away. Black out the exclamation pointed tips and facts on the other pages and concentrate on the recipes. They're not half-bad.

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