Friday, June 22, 2012

GREEN EGGS AND HAM COOKBOOK


Recipes inspired by Dr. Seuss

Concocted by Georgeanne Brennan

Photographed by Frankie Frankeny

(Random House Books for Young Readers, 2006)


This is part of a week-long focus on feeding minds and stomachs, a celebration of children’s cookbooks and picture books that fixate on food.

The star attraction of the cookbook appears on the cover:   green eggs and ham.  Haven’t we all wondered what that would taste like?  And would they taste even better on a boat with a goat or on a train in the rain?  What other diverse foods might Sam I Am introduce to us? 

Alas, we don’t know the answer to the last question, but Dr. Seuss, like Roald Dahl, knew how to stir our imaginations with off the names of kilter culinary treats, among other things.  It should come as no surprise that there is a Seuss-inspired cookbook. 

Author Georgeanne Brennan relies heavily on Dr. Seuss’s illustrations as well as his words to dream up food names and their recipes.  Sometimes, the color in a drawing is what Seussifies a basic item like the cake the Cat in the Hat eats in the tub in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.  Clearly, this cake has a filling and a pinkish coating on top.  Brennan’s “Cat in the Hat Tub Cake” becomes one of the easier concoctions in the book:  store-bought angel food cake with a layer of strawberry-infused whip cream in the middle and on top. 

Some of the recipes are a bigger stretch.  For instance, “Zans’ Cans Chili”, while looking mighty tasty in the photograph, is a creation inspired by the literary reference to a Zans that opens cans in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.  The chili seems to come more from Brennan’s imagination than that of Theodore Geisel.  Based on the intent look on the boy and girl’s faces and the number of cans they want opened, I think the contents would more likely be canned candy or Fudge Sludge than chili. 

I do like the idea to turn the head-sprouting daisy from Daisy-Head Mayzie into a cookie to top a burger referenced in the original book.   Kids would be thrilled to be served a burger with a daisy-shaped, icing-decorated cookie on top.  Dessert first?  Oh, it isn’t the worst!

The recipes are organized into sections (e.g., Breakfast, Beverages, Lunch), but without tabs or title pages, everything seems to run together.  If you are going to organize the collection, make it clearer.

The photographs are helpful.  When you’re going for zany, the recipe followers need to see the end product and how it is served.  For that reason, I was disappointed that some recipes lacked a photo, particularly Who-Roast-Beast, in actuality a chicken dish with mushrooms under the skin.  Brennan refers to the “dramatic Who look” from this mushroom tucking.  Why then no photo?  I don’t want to sound like I have a heart two sizes too small, but I just can’t visualize Brennan’s Roast Beast.

And on the subject of Whoville food fare, it is a bit of a head scratcher to include recipes for “Who-Roast-Beast” and “Who-Pudding”, but to leave out Who-Hash.  Seems the hash is just what’s needed to create a complete Who meal.  Perhaps the Grinch made a dash with the whats and hows for Who-Hash.

Unlike Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes, the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook becomes a clear ode to Seuss by including quotes from the relevant portions of the master’s original books.  Including the source illustrations also helps to make this book a perfect companion piece to a treasured shelf of Dr. Seuss picture books. 

And so what’s the secret to Green Eggs and Ham?  Guacamole-coated egg yolks and a ham slathered with apple jelly and coated with cilantro and parsley.  Not entirely unappetizing, but the cover shot is enough for me to get the picture.

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