Recipe fantasy to food reality.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


When I was pawing through the clearance book rack at Hastings the other day, I came across Cookoff by Amy Sutherland, and figured it would be worth the $4 investment. It's an investigation into the lives and motivations of the participants of cooking contests in America, and the content is really very interesting. Unfortunately, Sutherland is a terrible writer and condescending to boot. I've not finished the book and she's already misused the word "copious" twice, and even worse, repeatedly calls what is obviously message board a "chat room." That may have been acceptable in 1996, but lady, it's the 21st century here. Also, she seems to have an axe to grind when it comes to gender roles. I figured the gender angle would be really interesting, but Sullivan seems to be more interested in reinforcing gender roles than exploring them. I cringed through most of the burger chapter while she told me that women are afraid of grills but big strong men know how to handle them - apparently that's just the way things are, even though there are plenty of women in the burger contest. Further, for a book purporting to celebrate cookoffs, there is an awful lot of condescension. I realize that the Pillsbury Bakeoff is not the forum for cutting-edge cuisine, but these are things Americans eat, and the people in this book are the ones making the food Americans eat. There's no reason to say that a contestant "slimed" her dish with russian dressing unless you're actively trying to be mean.

Still, I'm almost finished with the book, and have enjoyed the content if not the delivery. The idea of entering recipes in contests is becoming more and more tempting, epecially considering the substantial prize money offered at some contests - the Pillsbury Bakeoff has a grand prize of $1 million. Check out Cooking Contest Central for info on contests around the country.


Post a Comment

<< Home