Often, a cook book is simply a tome crammed with recipes and no commentary. Villas''s "Stalking the Green Fairy" is definitely not that type of cook book. While he has relatively few recipes, the introductory chapters make up for this deficit. In a voice at once engaging and opinionated, Villas takes the armchair gourmand on a trip through the culinary world.
His book is organized into parts; he rambles through Southern cuisine in "Rebel Scout", which boasts seven informative and mouthwatering chapters. This section has chapters on several down-home treats, including grits, ham, and even fruitcake!
The second part, "Star-spangled Adventures", whisks readers through the USA, from shopping at Sam''s to crafting the perfect chicken salad.
n case readers are getting a bit dizzy from all the adventure, Villas dedicates six chapters to comfort food in "Comfort Me With Meatloaf". Here, he ponders the humble charms of iceberg lettuce, tuna, and every kid''s favorite, peanut butter.
The fourth part is aptly named "Foreign Foraging", and it takes the readers far afield in search of the perfect specimens of such foods as parmesan cheese, tiramisu, and onion soup.
In the fifth part, Villas gives a crash course in "Potent Potables", writing about absinthe (the "green fairy" of the title), vodka, and champagne.
The sixth and final part has eight chapters under the heading "Dispatch from the Restaurant Arena". He covers such interesting topics as overly cute, themed restaurants, tipping waiters, and good dining manners. In the chapter "the Reservations War", Villas gives invaluable advice on how to score a reservation at the most ritzy dining establishment.
Some of the recipes include the following:
Pork Pie with Biscuit Crust
Grilled Marinated Chicken Salad with Broccoli and Pine Nuts
Tiramisu de Alfredo
Portuguese Onion Soup
It''s exciting to be able to recommend a cook book that is as much fun to read as it is to use. Villas gives us a whirlwind tour of the world of food, providing great advice and great recipes along the way.