Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Amateur Gourmet (2007)

I started reading Adam Robert's blog, The Amateur Gourmet, over four years ago when he posted about the creation of a cupcake that would commemorate Janet Jackson's errant Super Bowl boob. So I feel like I know him pretty well -- I knew him when he was an unsatisfied law student in Atlanta, I followed him to New York City where he earned his MFA in dramatic writing at NYU, and (although slightly jealous for his success), I was pretty happy when he got the book deal that resulted in The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table Hop Like a Pro (Almost) (2007). [Where's my Spacebeer bookdeal, jerks?]

I really like Adam's blog (note: I usually don't refer to people I don't know by their first names, without an invitation to do so, but after four years of daily updates, I feel like we can skip the formalities). He is an adventurous cook, he posts interesting recipes, he takes great food pictures, and he has a creative and winning sense of humor. His openness and his goofiness draw the reader in and give the blog an informality and readability that is instantly charming.

Much of that same charm is present in the book, and I think it would appeal even to those who have never read his blog. Here Adam writes a series of essays that explore his own journey from only eating take out to cooking seven course meals for his friends. He opines on ordering in fancy restaurants, takes us to a master knife sharpener, and tries to get his friend who hates olives, coffee and stinky cheese to give them a try. And he even throws in some of his favorite recipes. It's all very readable and approachable and fun, particularly if the reader really is a beginner who hasn't thought through many of the issues or had many of the experiences that Adam recounts.

The weak part of the book (its hard to write about the weak part since Adam and I are such good pals) is the somewhat cutesy philosophies that weave in and out and close many of the chapters. These pop up on the blog sometimes too, but are worded less formally and come off more sincere and less stiff. I also really really miss the photographs that Adam posts to his blog -- somehow just imagining his food experiences isn't quite enough when you are used to four color evidence of every step.

So: I 100% recommend that you go read The Amateur Gourmet's blog. And if you like that, then you should check out the book too.

[Oh, and he also has his own Food Network video blog that should make me a little jealous, but actually makes me happy. Especially since he accidentally got to interview a drunken Anthony Bourdain. Mmmmm.]

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