I LOVE cookbooks. They speak to me. From the eye-catching covers to their drool-worthy photography, from the simple straight forward step by steps to the involved, well worth the effort recipes, I simply can't get enough.
The design, the typography, the photography, the recipes themselves, the organization of the content and the index all should work in tandem to inspire me to want to go grocery shopping, chop, stew, steam, braise, bake during my ever more precious free time.
So, suffice it to say I was excited when the food editor sent out an email asking for volunteers to review the latest slew of cookbooks that came in to the office. She sent out a list of titles to several of us and the title that popped out at me had already been claimed. So I settled for my third choice. I marched into her office to pick it up from her and when I got my first glimpse of the cover and binding, my heart sank.
Sigh. Now I'm having writers block.
As a photographer and graphic designer, I have to say, this book is enough to put me to sleep. It feels like it's straight out of the 1980s. From the spiral binding, to the cheesy cover illustration, to the horrible on camera flash photos of soup that "grace" each chapter opening – these are the ONLY photos in the book! – to the dated and uninspired page layout, I'm having a hard time delving into the recipes themselves. It's especially difficult to get past the author's introduction which is mostly a series of self-congratulatory ramblings of cooking awards and a seemingly never-ending series of name dropping. I found myself skimming the text while a chorus of "blah, blah, blah" ran through my head.
The book is about soup and it's a collection of recipes from around the globe. The terrible photographs are by the author's husband and the soups are recipes they've collected over their lifetime of traveling. It's organized by region but they feel so random that I am having a hard time figuring out what constitutes a "region." And the few recipes in each chapter that I've read, are just as dated as the book feels. There is nothing here so far that eschews fresh, local, organic or healthful. Maybe I'm being too harsh since it made such a poor first impression.
I know I'm being cryptic. I still need to do an official review for the newspaper so I can't give much more away here. The official review I fear will be fairly benign with just a list of the book's "qualities." The editor already mentioned that if I truly hate it, perhaps we should pass on the review. Personally, I think that does our readers a disservice. We shouldn't just review what we like.
So, if she does pass on my review, I'll come back here and do my own with recommendations on what to pick up in its place.
Until then, wish me luck. I'm going to attempt a few of these recipes before passing final judgement.
Peace and good health!