There is something seriously wrong with the universe when a woman as pretty and thin as Lorna Yee can put away truck loads of fatty food to no ill effect. Or perhaps - a different view - perhaps there's something seriously right. She's a friend of mine, so I say this with lots of love, that we must all meet dressed in black one night, take her away to a laboratory so that we may discover the secret to her nuclear metabolism - perhaps we could fuel the cars of tomorrow with the Lorna lessons of today.
Point being: There is something infinitely awesome about the richness and decadence that surround Ms. Lorna and her impeccable palate, generous spirit and saavy around a well-made dessert.
Reading her tweets, facebook status updates and recipes puts pounds on women all across this great land - FROM HER WORDS ALONE. But we keep going back for more. Maybe it's that we are trying to get a contact high from her life. We hope to share in her fashionable Prada Kevlar lined protective suit that allows duck fat in and calories out, 1 for 1. It boggles the mind.
The Newlywed Kitchen by Lorna Yee and Ali Basye is FOOD PORN at its very best. Page 80's Four Cheese Mac-and-Cheese centerfold was downright scandalous. Page 149's Cheddar Cheese Grits with Shrimp and Bacon Gravy made an elderly woman looking over my shoulder in the library blush, and then giggle.
It seems fitting that I'll be making her Red Velvet Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting this weekend for a catering I'm doing for a Harlequin romance novelist. I even went out and bought myself that most utilitarian of objects: the portable cake transporter, with locking snap-down sides and handy top handle. Admit it, now you want one.
The brilliance in this book goes beyond the recipes, the photography and the stories well-crafted by co-author Ali Basye - the brilliance in this book lies in the ease with which you will overcome that life long question: what the fuck do I get them as a wedding gift? Ta-da. Behold: your answer.
I really enjoyed the stories of some food couples both known and unknown to me. One of my favorites was the partnership between Cynthia Nims and her husband Bob Burns. Bob made Cynthia a romantic dinner on one of their first dates that consisted of boiled beyond recognition broccoli, bottled salad dressing, ready-to-eat pasta sauce and watery canned mushrooms. No dessert was served. Years later, he recreated the menu only this time he made his own vinaigrette for the salad, used fresh mushrooms, lightly steamed the broccoli and dessert was presented on one knee, all sparkly and set inside a small box.
"It was so sweet for him to re-create the very first meal he ever made me - but properly...." says Cynthia...
'As for Chez Bob, it was open for one night only, though the proclaimed "foodie spouse" will occasionally perform as sous-chef "under extreme circumstances."'
"Food is such an integral part of life. The trick is finding what makes you the happiest as a couple and making the most of that."
My only criticism of this book is that all newlywed couples take part in this dance in the kitchen. In our home, the dance starts with April's reliable-as-the-sunrise OH SHIT exclamation whilst cooking which brings me running into the kitchen to perform my part: clean up on aisle 7. Another dance features all the warmth of all the love in my heart when she does the impossible and burns water. A more modern set of steps occurred that time she made me a dinner using every last spice on my spice rack. And my favorite of all is when I cook something simple for her, something she really loves, and she closes her eyes while savoring, better to block out any distraction to her enjoyment.
I was surprised in this day and age, coming out of Seattle where half the chefs are queer as a three dollar bill, that not all couples were represented within the pages of the book (for the record, this was not Lorna's decision). Regardless, like years ago, gay and lesbian newlyweds can project themselves onto these pages. I can be Lorna, eating scads of duck confit and wearing pretty dresses, or not. April can be sweet, handsome Henry. Sweet handsome Henry with lipstick. Lipstick and boobs.