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15 Strange and Awesome Cookbooks

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Amazon.com

Beyond Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain and even Alton Brown exists a culinary world limited only by human imagination and gag reflex. Here we explore some lesser known but very intriguing cookbooks.

1. Giggle Water

This self-published recipe book told its 1928 readers how to make delightful, Prohibition-flaunting giggle drinks, including “Eleven Famous Cocktails of The Most Exclusive Club in New York.” Drinks such as The Bronx, The Astor, The Bacardi, The Clover, and The Dry Martini were among the recipes. The book recently sold from AbeBooks for £1,200.

2. Cookin’ with Coolio

This may very well be as much a piece of performance art as it is a cookbook. Coolio promises that his Crazy Pollo Salad "easily serves 4 crazy motherf****ers" and introduces readers to his own take on classic foreign dishes, such as Ghettalian (ghetto Italian). Reviewers rate it high for its recipes and even higher for being funny.

3. Odd Bits

Throughout most of history and in many parts of the world today, a person would have to be crazy to throw out perfectly edible pieces of animals just because they weren’t prime cuts. Odd Bits puts modern zest in ancient and impoverished diets with recipes on how to cook ears, feet, hearts, lungs, gizzards, kidneys, brains, testicles, intestines, and more.

4. Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes

It can’t be all lickable Snozzberries and edible flower teacups in Roald Dahl’s world. Revolting Recipes, written by Dahl’s wife Felicity, offers up both dismal fare such as Mr. Twit's Beard Food (mashed potatoes, eggs, mushrooms, and cocktail weenies) and some which is more promising, like Eatable Marshmallow Pillows. Perfect for especially strange children.

5. Fifty Shades of Chicken

“I want you to see this. Then you’ll know everything. It’s a cookbook,” he says, and opens to some recipes, with color photos. “I want to prepare you, very much.” There’s pulling, jerking, stuffing, trussing. Fifty preparations. This book is available on Kindle, to offer privacy for the discreet chef.

6. Forme of Cury

Read the recipes of Richard II’s personal chef in this 600-year-old cookbook. Or try to, anyway. They’re written in Middle English. “Nym kedys and chekenys and hew hem in morsellys and seth hem in almand mylk or in kyne mylke grynd gyngyner galingale and cast therto and boyle it and serve it forthe.” Once you figure that out, you’re in for some good pottage.

7. Special Effects Cookbook

Published in 1992, this still locatable family-fun cookbook promises “Easy to create recipes for food that Smokes, Erupts, Moves, Sings, Glows, Talks, Cracks, Pops, and Swims!” A great way to sneak science into your children’s pastries.

8. The Gay Cookbook

Written in 1965, Lou Rand Hogan (creator of the first gay detective, called The Gay Detective, also in 1965) is proud and loud in a time where it was dangerous to be so. He delights in the single entendre (“Chapter Seven. What to do with a Tough Piece of Meat.”) and embraces all the negativity directed at gays of the day with a fierce acceptance: “So we’ll offer here a sort of nonsensical cookbook for the androgynous (don’t bother to look it up, Maude. It means 'limp-wristed')." A whole new take on the 1960s.

9. TV Suppers

It’s so refreshing to see what most families consider their shameful secret given the dignity of 1960s elegance. Eating on the floor while watching game shows does not make you less of a person.

10. The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook

Bates knows the apocalypse, or “The Great Change,” is coming, but he’s not bummed. In fact, in a way it’s something to look forward to, a chance to rebuild a proper society from the ashes of the oil-dependent, chemically treated, artificial wasteland we live in now. Besides recipes for homegrown food, he also includes information on food storage, waste disposal, and rebuilding civilization.

11. The Pyromaniac’s Cookbook

You will be amazed how much food and drink can be improved by setting it on fire.

12. The “Why I’m Such a Fat Bastard” Recipe Book

A cookbook for all who believe Truth is Beauty. Buster is really sick of Kindle diet books. So he made his own Kindle book, showing how to make British desserts. It’s filled with butter and cream and sugar and even some bad language for good measure.

13. Official Star Trek Cooking Manual

Today there's an updated publication of Star Trek cookery, and there have been endless unofficial imitators, but this was the first and the official. Printed in 1978, when the franchise was still sacred to a relatively small number of Trekkers, this is for true academy-trained cadets only. Mr. Scott’s Scot’s Broth. Dr. McCoy’s Cornbread. Romulan stew. They’re all here. (Bonus: Compiled by a woman named “Piccard.” That’s got to mean something.)

14. The Lucretia Borgia Cookbook

A trendier cookbook featuring the favorite recipes of dead celebrities is currently in publication. But TLBC came first (1971). It is based on the idea that “the same good taste that enables one to paint fraudulent masterpieces incongruously carries over into the blending of white sauce. As students of both history and psychology, we should therefore have been prepared for an accidental discovery made during our research into foods of antiquity: notoriously sinister people ate more interesting, and frequently better, food than did most of their counterparts.”

15. Cooking Apicius

The Apicius is an even more ancient cookbook than the Forme of Cury, dating from around the 4th century. It’s a collection of recipes intended to be cooked for wealthy Romans of the era. Grainger translates the recipes and attempts to make them feasible for a modern cook while still retaining the taste of antiquity. It might mean a little rotting fish paste here and there, but if it was good enough for Caesar it’s good enough for you.

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Food
Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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