The Gallery of Regrettable Food

Written by James Lileks
Published by Crown Publishing

Remember your momís old cookbooks from the 1950s and 60s? Those glossy photos portraying inedible-looking food in the most nauseating colors imaginable? Well, James Lileks was just as terrified by them as the rest of us. Inspired by an old cookbook of his motherís, Lileks started a collection of similar gems and has compiled them into this nostalgic book of horrors.

The chapters have titles like ďSubmit to the Power of KetchupĒ and ďItís 10 p.m.óDo you know where your wieners are?Ē Accompanied by the actual pictures and occasionally recipes from old cookbooks, Lileks adds his own clever and witty observations and commentary, which render the grotesque illustrations hilarious. We get to explore everything from the evolution of Jell-O to the saga of Aunt Jenny and her favorite lard product, Spry.

I brought this book with me to Thanksgiving vacation with my family, and it got perused and snickered over all weekend. Not only did my mother especially enjoy it, having grown up with and later owning such cookbooks, but she also (somewhat disturbingly) found a recipe she loved as a child: some carrot/pineapple/vinegar Jell-O mold-thing called Sunshine Salad. Iím really scared now.

This is one of those books that I just keep picking up to peruse and get a few really good laughs. Itís structured in such a way that youíll find something sick and funny on every page. My copy hasnít even made it into a bookshelf yet. It actually came to my attention through the author's website, where Lileks has stashed even more sick and twisted recipes, along with other interesting tidbits. I saw the site and knew I had to have this book. It is well worth owning, and check out the website while youíre at it. Even if youíre not familiar with any of the source material and have never cooked a day in your life, itís just too funny to pass up.

The aforementioned favorite food of Cosette's mom (shudder)

Review by Cosette

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