This is a brilliant cookbook, but it''s not for everyone. Some might be turned off by the cannibalistic inspiration for these dishes, while many will be turned off by the exotic ingredients used in several of the dishes. However, I see two overlapping audiences who will...
This is a brilliant cookbook, but it''s not for everyone. Some might be turned off by the cannibalistic inspiration for these dishes, while many will be turned off by the exotic ingredients used in several of the dishes. However, I see two overlapping audiences who will find a lot of value here. The first consists of those who are devoted fans of the TV show Hannibal and want some additional insight into his culinary designs. The second are those with a sophisticated and somewhat adventurous palate who are looking for some artful if unorthodox meals.
I find myself in both categories. I''m the kind of person who already keeps his copy of Gray''s Anatomy on the same shelf as his cookbooks, so I was more than intrigued by the promise of this book, and I wasn''t disappointed. That said, you should be aware that these are not just whimsical ways to plate mundane dishes (though there are a few of those included). The majority of the recipes in this book include exotic ingredients that might not be to everyone''s liking and might be difficult to source depending on one''s location. It doesn''t take long to see just how adventurous these recipes will get. As early as the fourth recipe, the ingredients list includes one lamb brain and 1 lamb testicle.
Substitutions abound, however, so even if most people mightn''t be interested in most of these recipes, I think almost everyone will find at least some dishes to try. And I''m not going to sit here and claim that I have any interest in every single recipe in the book. I may be willing to experiment in the kitchen, but I also know the limits of my own tastes.
People who want some insight into the TV show will also find a lot of value. Of course this is a cookbook, not a "making of" documentary, but there are numerous little anecdotes about the filming interspersed throughout the book, giving the reader a brief if vivid picture of what it was like for the filmmakers (the author in particular) to design Dr. Lecter''s dinners.
A brief early section of the book provides some insight into the techniques you''ll need to master and the equipment you''ll require if you want to attempt these dishes. I place emphasis, however, on the word "brief." While a large number of the recipes are not particularly difficult, this book does assume the reader knows his or her way around the kitchen. If you''re just beginning to cook, I wouldn''t presume to warn you away from this book, but I would recommend you supplement it with a more "beginner-friendly" volume like Mark Bittman''s How to Cook Everything or the always-popular Joy of Cooking.
I do recommend reading the book straight through before deciding which dishes you want to sample. For one thing, unlike many cookbooks, it actually makes for an entertaining read even for those who never want to pick up a chef''s knife at all. More importantly, though, it wouldn''t do to simply prepare just one of these dishes. These dishes are better viewed as the components of a larger menu (perhaps for a dinner party), and you''ll want to survey the entire selection of offerings before planning your menu.
As much as I enjoyed the book, I do have one complaint and one wish. My wish is that the book had included suggestions for wine pairings with each dish. Though there is a small selection of cocktail recipes near the back of the book (some of which are quite appealing indeed!), it''s my opinion that each course should be consciously paired with the perfect wine, and it would have been helpful had the book included some insights. My complaint is that, though the book is beautifully illustrated with a mixture of photographs of the food, sketches of the food, and photographs from the set, I feel like a photograph should have been included for each and every dish. Presentation is always important, but in these recipes, it''s arguably of paramount importance, and some additional visual guidance would have been quite helpful.
Nevertheless, while I didn''t find it a perfect book, I do highly recommend it. It''s a fun read, and I think all you chefs out there will enjoy recreating some of these dishes.