It seems pretty straightforward, in essence: a cookbook’s purpose is to provide recipes and instructions on how to properly prepare various dishes. That’s why we were giddy when it was announced, seemingly years ago, that one of our favorite New York restaurants, the vegetable-focused Dirt Candy, would be releasing its first cookbook in the form of a graphic novel. Now that it’s finally out, the book has proven itself to be worth the wait: this may be the first and only cookbook to elicit the amount of joy and tears usually reserved for a compelling piece of literary fiction. To celebrate this truly unique work, we rounded up some of our other favorite quirky spins on the “cookbook” concept. Spoiler alert: you’re gonna get a lot of Harold McGee. Ever used any of these? Did we miss your favorite cookbook oddity/treasure? Let us know in the comments.
Dirt Candy by Amanda Cohen and Ryan Dunlavey
Amanda Cohen, the brilliantly insane proprietor of New York’s Dirt Candy, is one of our favorite people in the food game. Her restaurant’s blog is as outspoken as a public Facebook post, captioned at the very top with her modus operandi: “Anyone can cook a hamburger, but leave vegetables to the professionals.” She makes the distinction that Dirt Candy is a “vegetable” restaurant, not a “vegetarian” restaurant, and seeks to redefine the way the modern palate approaches eating veggies. It’s no wonder, then, that Dirt Candy as a cookbook redefines the way a traditional printed collection of recipes works. A graphic novel format tells of Cohen’s history in cooking, her team’s loss on Iron Chef, and her personal/professional methodologies in a refreshingly frank and honest way that’s very much her style. Then, of course, there’s the recipes: everything from the jalapeño hush puppies to Cohen’s own mushroom take on foie gras comes explained, step by admirably difficult step. We hope Dirt Candy starts a revolution, one in which everyone eats and enjoys vegetables and no one’s mean about it.