We get two very important things out of relationships, self-knowledge and recipes for delicious, savory, and cheesy dishes. Or so assert Erin Ergen Bright and Thisbe Nissen, authors of a quirky and witty recipe file called The ex-Boyfriend Cook Book. Is this cute collage of food and failed romance worth a cheese lover’s time? For cooks with a sense of humor and a sense of adventure, the answer is yes.
As a collection of recipes, this cook found the volume both intriguing and uneven. Dishes run the gamut from self-described “white-trashy” popcorn cakes to delicious veggie galettes blending three types of cheese. Cheese lovers will notice an easy and fast cream cheese brownie recipe, directions for simple cottage cheese pancakes, an interesting crab quiche, spicy chicken enchiladas created by an ex who took mushrooms, two addictive cheese dips, and more. There is also, of course, a recipe for macaroni and cheese (this cook wonders if every American man has to agree as a child to love macaroni and cheese, as part of some secret boy code.)
This cookbook offers laughs, poignant vignettes, and variety, but can be a little short on specific cooking directions. This examiner made “Sonny’s Magical Squash Casserole” today and enjoyed it as a comfort food. There are several quick and easy salad and cookie recipes. Yet, foodies who are looking for specific directions for gourmet, romantic dishes might want to look elsewhere.
However, this book is not trying to replace the Silver Palate Cookbook. As an exploration and “celebration of the search for [love]...and the things we share with another person during that search” this little book about memorable meals succeeds admirably. A single woman will find the vignettes about the men providing the recipes hilarious. The story of “Keith the Pathological Liar” is far more interesting than the recipe for his cold remedy, but no matter. This book would be a worthwhile read (or gift) for any woman who has had to kiss a few toads before finding the prince (or princess) of her dreams.